Concerns over Children's Mental Health Services; A BBC TV Investigation into Children's Mental Health Services in Wales Has Found Families Are Not Always Getting the Support They Need, Writes Chief Reporter Martin Shipton

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 23, 2015 | Go to article overview

Concerns over Children's Mental Health Services; A BBC TV Investigation into Children's Mental Health Services in Wales Has Found Families Are Not Always Getting the Support They Need, Writes Chief Reporter Martin Shipton


Byline: Martin Shipton

SERIOUS concerns have been raised about mental health services for children in Wales by a BBC Wales documentary due to be screened tonight.

Figures obtained by the Week In Week Out current affairs series show that around two thirds of referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are found to require no specialist treatment and are described as "unnecessary".

Week In Week Out has been following a family from Merthyr Tydfil who have been going through the CAMHS process for diagnosing autism for almost three years. Many parents describe the system as complex, time-consuming and frustrating.

Tania Wood and Kelvin Jenkins are filmed over a six-month period as they seek an explanation for their son Dayton's challenging behaviour.

The five-year-old's mother says: "They are making it harder than it should be. It's no good saying to me CAMHS should diagnose this, and then CAHMS telling me 'no your doctor needs to diagnose it'."

The Welsh Government has announced a funding boost of PS7.6m for CAHMS every year.

However, Dr Elspeth Webb, a former paediatrician who worked alongside CAMHS says she's concerned this figure has been "just plucked out of the air" and won't have the impact intended unless there's a major culture change.

Dr Webb, a former Professor of Child Health, told Week In Week Out that not enough work had been done by the Welsh Government to assess the exact needs in the community.

Commenting on the extra cash, she said: "It's wonderful news but I have some misgivings. Welsh Government has failed to respond to crises in CAMHS since around 2006/7. They've finally been forced into action really because it's reaching scandalous levels, in terms of children in police cells overnight, children in ordinary hospitals with mental health problems. So they had to respond. What worries me is that this is a figure that's been plucked out of the air with no actual measurement of what's out there and what do we need to respond to that."

Commenting on the extra money for CAMHS, Sally Holland, the Children's Commissioner for Wales, said mental health provision for young people is her number one concern.

On the programme she says: "The Government has got a new action plan. It looks fairly optimistic but I don't think this'll be an easy nut to crack and I really hope and expect to see action on this, this year.

"I will be monitoring the results fairly closely. I've asked to have regular updates from government on the figures of children going through and the waiting lists. …

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