Anne, a CAMHS carer and campaign supporter, writes:
“So now the press embargo has been lifted I can write about Norman Lamb’s Task Force which has been announced in today’s media. So he’s finally decided that children and young people’s mental health services need improving – has he really only just thought of this! If he had bothered to engage with us parents and carers all the time we have been asking him to he would have known how dire the situation can be! What good is a task force if it cannot enforce the recommendations? How does a task force help those children being failed by a system that is not fit for purpose now?
When Norman Lamb proposed parity of esteem NHS England cut mental health budgets by 20% more than physical health. The CCGs went on to ignore this anyway with some giving as low as 7% of their budget to mental health. Lamb has consistently stated that he is powerless to enforce parity of esteem so how is he going to have the power to enforce the changes which are so desperately needed?
The task force will look at the development of digital services and online information – Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust already did that by spending £25,000 on a website that is quite honestly rubbish. Therefore is more money just going to be wasted?
He wants to make sure that young people moving from children’s services to adult services continue to get the care they need. Young People currently DO NOT get the care that they need so it will just be lack of care to lack of care! Adult MH services are in just as much disarray with a lack of beds and therefore children will continue to be failed as they move into adulthood!
He is going to invite local areas to demonstrate innovative models of care – Norfolk and Suffolk have already done that which has meant cuts to services for young people and which has placed them in situations where their lives are at risk.
He wants to involve young people in the work of the Task Force – how exactly does he propose to do that when often the very nature of their illness means they cannot engage with people
Most critically there is no mention of money in this announcement. Money is what is so desperately needed so that more beds are available so that children and parents don’t have to travel hundreds of miles for in-patient care. Money is needed so that more psychiatrists, psychologists and other staff are available. More money is needed to reinstate care for young people in crisis to prevent them for being admitted to Adolescent a Mental Health Units. More money is needed so that children can access early intervention care rather than waiting 2 years to be seen by which time the situation is so dire and they are in crisis that they need intensive support. More money is needed so that parents do not have to cope on their own but instead can access support for them and their families. More money is needed so that charities like Young Minds UK can continue to offer their support to parents through their Parent Helpline. More money is needed to that there are children and adolescent specialists available in out of hours care. More money is needed to reduce the caseloads of frontline staff.
There is no parity when children have to wait 2 years to be seen because they are not considered “ill enough”. There is no parity when children are treated appallingly by children’s wards in local hospitals. There is no parity when vulnerable children don’t have the family support to fight for them to get the care they need. There is no parity when Local Authorities won’t hold NHS Trusts to account or promise meetings with parents who then hear nothing.
The reality is that children and adolescent mental health services are in crisis now. That real help is needed now. That no family should have to go through this living nightmare on their own without support. Announcing a task force is all very well but it won’t be in time for some children. It won’t be making its recommendations until January 2015. Real change is needed now and my hope is that the media will pick up on the crisis that currently exists in MH services for young people and starts asking how this can be allowed to continue. Focusing on the task force is too little, too late when children are suffering every day. Now is the time to be horrified at cuts and reorganisations.
Even is his interview on Radio 5 Live he won’t commit to investing more money into mental health. He talks about parity again but doesn’t say how he is going to enforce it. It seems to be more waffle and no action. Our children are worth more than just talk and a task force. Yet again government have missed the point!”
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