Ex-MP calls for increased spending on child mental health services

By Jess Brown

| 23 September 2015

The government needs to pump more money into tackling a wide range of mental health conditions through its children's mental health investment programme, former health minister Paul Burstow has said.

Paul Burstow has been appointed chair of a London NHS trust. Picture: Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Burstow, who was care minister in the Coalition government between 2010 and 2012, said the government's £1.25bn investment to turn around child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) by 2020 should prioritise children with depression and anxiety, conduct disorders, and those at risk of self-harm and suicide.

The former Liberal Democrat MP – he lost his Sutton and Cheam seat at May's election after first being elected in 1997 – said the funding must also usher in reforms to how CAMHS are delivered by giving children more control over their care, access to a wider range of evidence-based therapies, more support for children’s families and better trained clinicians.

Adopting the use of new technology should also mean care is provided closer to a child's home and in the community, Burstow added.

So far, the government has pledged to invest £7m in creating new inpatient beds for children and young people; £150m to address self-harm and eating disorders; £33m in new waiting time targets to make sure young people with psychosis get prompt treatments; and £54m in expanding the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme for children.

Speaking to CYP Now on the day he was appointed chair of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Burstow said his new role would enable him to lobby government to ensure the changes needed to services are realised.

In addition, he said "parity of esteem" – the government’s initiative to have equality across physical and mental health services – must be protected when the government decides its funding priorities in the upcoming spending review.

“Otherwise, we are condemning another generation of young people to inadequate services,” he said. “We are a long way off parity of esteem, and a long way off parity of esteem between children and adults’ mental health. It is changing, but there is a lot more to do."

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust provides a range of mental health services across north London.

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