Government launches child mental health taskforce

By Joe Lepper

| 18 July 2014

A government taskforce is to be set up to improve child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) following concerns raised by NHS England about inappropriate care and bed shortages.

A government taskforce will overhaul the way CAMHS are commissioned. Image: Alex Deverill

The taskforce will be chaired by the government’s social care director general Jon Rouse and will involve representatives from NHS England, the Department for Education, local councils, the charity sector as well as young people with mental health issues.

Those being asked to take part include Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s director for long-term conditions.

Among its tasks will be to look at overhauling the way CAMHS is commissioned, to ensure young people are offered the most appropriate care, whether in the community or in hospital.

The announcement was made by care minister Norman Lamb during a health select committee inquiry hearing into CAMHS on Wednesday.

He told MPs: “There is a long overdue need for a thorough review of CAMHS. We have commissioning from councils, schools, clinical commissioning groups and NHS England. That can’t make sense.

“We must involve young service users and look at how we can achieve a much more rational use of the resources available and avoid the potential for perverse incentives that exist at the moment.

“I’m looking to find ways to align commissioning and ideally to pool the budgets where possible. I also want to promote exemplars around the country and trial a new way of aligned commissioning.”

Lamb was particularly concerned with NHS England findings that young people were being inappropriately treated in hospital because of a lack of support in the community.

The NHS England report, published last week, also detailed how the south west of England and Yorkshire and Humber were particularly blighted by bed shortages, forcing young people to be treated far from home.

NHS England has already pledged to increase the number of inpatient beds by 50 and recruit between 10 and 20 case managers to ensure young people are treated appropriately.

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