Government to recruit 2,000 additional CAMHS staff

By Tristan Donovan

| 31 July 2017

The NHS has set out plans to recruit 2,000 more staff for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in a bid to ensure 70,000 more children and young people can access mental health services by 2020/21.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wants people with mental health problems to receive better treatment. Picture: Department of Health

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the recruitment campaign will be funded as part of the existing £1.4bn push to correct the "historic imbalance" between physical and mental health services in the NHS.

The plan, which features in Health Education England report, reveals that the NHS will seek to recruit and train an additional 2,000 nurses, therapists and qualified clinicians to work in CAMHS.

The report said that by 2020/21 the goal is for 95 per cent of children and adolescents with eating disorders to get treatment within a week for urgent cases and within four weeks for routine cases.

The report also reiterates a promise made by Prime Minister Theresa May in January that children and young people with mental health conditions will no longer be placed in settings that are inappropriate for their needs or far from their family home by 2020/21.

Meanwhile, inpatient stays will only happen when clinically appropriate and for the minimum possible length of stay.

The report adds that by 2020/21 the NHS wants at least 35 per cent of children and young people with diagnosable mental health conditions to receive treatment from community mental health services, compared with 28 per cent in 2016/17.

Details of the recruitment plans come amid ongoing concerns about resources within CAMHS. In May a survey found that 76 per cent of NHS mental health workers felt that current level of staffing in CAMHS was inadequate to meet demand.

Last week a report by the Education Policy Institute said children and young people spent nearly 9,000 unnecessary days waiting to be discharged from mental health beds due to factors such as insufficient community mental health support.

"We want people with mental health conditions to receive better treatment, and part of that means having the right NHS staff," said Hunt.

"We know we need to do much more to attract, retain and support the mental health workforce of the future - today is the first step to address this historic imbalance of workforce planning."

Professor Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, welcomed the report's plans to bolster the mental health workforce. She said: "The biggest challenge to creating robust mental health services is the workforce. I am very supportive of this strategy which starts to tackle that problem."

However, the Royal College of Nursing said the plans do not add up and more money will be needed to train the additional staff required to meet the targets.

Two years ago the government announced plans to overhaul CAMHS, setting aside an extra £1.4bn for clinical commissioning groups to spend in the period leading up to 2020.

Marc Bush, chief policy adviser at YoungMinds, said: "We welcome the government's commitment to create 2,000 additional posts in Camhs, as well as new jobs in crisis settings.

"We know that CAMHS services are often overstretched, and that many staff report being exhausted and demoralised, so it is important to recruit new staff, and to incentivise those who have left to return to the profession.
 
"However, even with the extra money that's been promised, NHS England have said that they will only be able to reach one in three children with a diagnosable mental health condition.

"That's why the government must ensure that money promised for CAMHS isn't siphoned off to other priorities, and that, ultimately, there is sufficient funding to help all children and young people who need support."

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