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Lib Dem MP criticises partial diversion of funds meant for children's mental health services

Failure to deliver on promised funding is ‘disgusting’, Norman Lamb said.  
Norman Lamb

The failure to deliver on all of the planned 1.25 billion funding to boost child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is disgusting, a former senior government minister has said.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who worked as minister of state for care and support in the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, was addressing the Children and Young Peoples Mental Health forum in London on 6 July.

Transformation plans

He said work on Future in Mind transformation plans for CAMHS services had been desperately needed when he was in government, in part to do away with outrageous thresholds to access care.

'For example, if you are a 15-year-old girl with an eating disorder and you are told by your GP that your body mass index isn't low enough, it's like saying to

The failure to deliver on all of the planned £1.25 billion funding to boost child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is ‘disgusting’, a former senior government minister has said.


Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb. Picture: Neil O'Connor

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who worked as minister of state for care and support in the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, was addressing the Children and Young People’s Mental Health forum in London on 6 July.

Transformation plans

He said work on Future in Mind transformation plans for CAMHS services had been desperately needed when he was in government, in part to do away with ‘outrageous thresholds’ to access care.

'For example, if you are a 15-year-old girl with an eating disorder and you are told by your GP that your body mass index isn't low enough, it's like saying to that girl, "Go away, get sicker and then we might provide some support for you".'

In March 2015, the coalition government announced plans to spend £1.25 billion over five years to help children and young people, and new mothers, with mental health issues.

No show

Mr Lamb said the funding would be a ‘radical shift towards prevention’. But he told the conference that some of the money never arrived.

'Instead of £250 million, which was the intended funding for the first year of the five-year spend, it was £143 million, because money was taken from children's mental health services and used to prop up other parts of the NHS, and I think that is disgusting.

‘How can you possibly justify making a solemn commitment in a budget statement, that you will make an investment in a much-needed service, and then fail to deliver that investment in the very first year of this extra money becoming available.’

He said the situation was made worse by including the funds within clinical commissioning group (CCG) baseline funding, rather than ringfencing it for transformation.

Funding deficit

Mr Lamb referred to an analysis by charity Young Minds in December 2016 that found the result of the move was that 50% of CCGs were spending less than the allocated amount for CAMHS in 2016-17.

'So the process continues – money committed for children's mental health is being stolen to be used in other parts of the system.'

He added: 'Surely it is better to spend money up front to prevent problems in the first place, rather than trying to repair the damage once it is too late.'

Young Minds chief executive Sarah Brennan previously welcomed the investment by the government, but said: 'Jeremy Hunt described CAMHS as the single weakest area of NHS provision, so it is vital that all the new money is spent where it was intended – on creating better services with a greater focus on early intervention'.


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