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CAMHS Crisis: Joint Ofsted/CQC Inspection in Suffolk: NSFT’s CAMHS services are ‘poor quality’ and ‘next steps… may include the Secretary of State using his powers of intervention’


What does the joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) SEND inspection published today say about the provision of mental health services for children and young people in Suffolk by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT)?

The teams delivering health provision are not seen to be sufficiently responsive to children and young people with complex mental health needs. Timely access to the emotional well-being and mental health services remains an area of significant concern. When referrals are made to the single points of access for help, there are often long delays before children and young people can access specialist CAMHS teams. In some cases, this delay can lead to a deterioration in the mental health of the children and young people before they are seen by the relevant health professionals. Once the appropriate care pathway has been identified, there is often a further wait due to practitioners’ availability in some CAMHS teams. Some young people and their families report improved outcomes when they have been able to get specialist help, but the level of complaints and feedback about the access to CAMHS is high compared to most other areas of NHS delivery. Timeliness for assessing and meeting need within contractual timescales for routine referrals to CAMHS is improving, but assessment and follow-up of urgent work is not sufficiently timely. The plans to strengthen support for children and young people with mental health needs in crisis, including out-of-hours contact, have drifted against action plan milestones.

Waiting times for specialist assessments for autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are still lengthy and current pathways do not support best practice in line with National Institute for Heath and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance. A significant programme of work is still to be agreed to map the future care pathways and models of assessment and treatment to achieve an equitable, evidenced-based offer across the whole of Suffolk.

For how much longer can children and young people be let down like this?

When is the Secretary of State going to use ‘his powers of intervention’?

We hear about the importance of prevention from politicians and commissioners but funding never seems to follow their rhetoric. Apart from for their own inflation-busting pay rises.

NHS Benchmarking found that NSFT CAMHS suffered the deepest cuts in England.

Click on the image below to read the letter in full on the Ofsted website:


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