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Cumbria CAMHS in need of 'radical restructure'

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 22 November 2012

An independent review of Cumbria’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) has uncovered “major concerns” about the quality of provision.

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Cumbria's CAMHS service was found to be understaffed. Image: Alex Deverill/posed by models

The review, which was ordered by the Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, warns that the services are in need of “radical restructuring” due to failures in commissioning, resourcing and clinical practice.

Among its shortfalls, the review team found the service had less than two thirds of the number of staff required, in comparison to national averages, while clinical data was recorded in an “inadequate” fashion.

Staff were found to be struggling to keep up with rising demand for services, in particular for young people that have problems with self-harm and a rising number of children are identified with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder.

The review also warned that there was a “marked deficit” in the number of staff experienced in working with young people with “major mental health difficulties”, such as severe depression, eating disorders and psychosis.

The clinical commissioning group and foundation trust have now agreed a joint plan to address the problems, which will be overseen by two consultant psychiatrists and a clinical director.

It will involve extending the opening hours of the service and recruiting more nurses, improving transition support for 17-year-olds and developing better procedures for GPs and other professionals to refer children to the service.

“We will take forward the plans in line with the recommendations in the report and will be involving local GPs and other health and social care partners in the process to ensure we get it right,” said Chris Hallewell, medical director at the trust.

“We jointly commissioned this review because we want to ensure that children and their families in Cumbria receive the best possible service from us.”

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