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Regions sometimes have no child mental health beds, says report

Whole regions of England were left without any specialist CAMHS beds on three occasions last year, according to Education Policy Institute report.
CAMHS

Whole regions of England were left without any specialist inpatient mental health beds for children on three occasions last year, a new report states.

On two dates in April 2016 there were no Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) inpatient beds available in the NHS south region, which covers the south east, south central and south west.

And on 1 June last year there were no CAMHS beds in London, according to a new report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) .

Treated on adult wards

It says there have been capacity problems in children's mental health inpatient services in the past year, which can lead to children being treated on

Whole regions of England were left without any specialist inpatient mental health beds for children on three occasions last year, a new report states.


Many children have to travel more than 30 miles from their home to access a CAMHS bed, the report says. Picture: iStock

On two dates in April 2016 there were no Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) inpatient beds available in the NHS south region, which covers the south east, south central and south west.

And on 1 June last year there were no CAMHS beds in London, according to a new report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

Treated on adult wards

It says there have been capacity problems in children's mental health inpatient services in the past year, which can lead to children being treated on adult wards or other child hospital wards, children being admitted to hospital a long way from home or young people being 'inappropriately' supported in the community.

Between October and December 2016, 83 under-18s were treated on adult wards. They spent a total of 2,700 days in adult hospitals.

The consequences of such admissions can be 'severe', the authors said, citing examples of a child witnessing a suicide and another child being assaulted by an adult patient.

The report also says in March this year there were 331 hospital stays in which children were 30 or more miles from their home.

Bed numbers vary

While the number of CAMHS beds has increased by 71% since 1999 to 1,440 across England, the number available in each region varies, the authors said.

On average there are 2.5 CAMHS inpatient beds per 100,000 population in England. In the North East the figure is 3.03 beds per 100,000 population, compared with 1.1 in the South West.

Earlier this year, the NHS announced it will provide more beds, and will redistribute them more uniformly.

The report also highlights problems with workforce shortages, and young people being left in hospital for longer than necessary due to a lack of community services.

It states that between October 2015 and February 2017 children spent a total of nearly 9,000 days waiting to leave mental health hospitals because there was a lack of support in the community.

Recruitment needed

'While the overall quality of care has improved, our research finds inconsistent provision of inpatient services across England, with shortages in the workforce, as well as evidence of basic standards not being met,' said EPI director of mental health Emily Frith.

'A sustained focus is needed on recruitment to increase capacity in hospital and community services and to continue to improve the quality of care.'

A spokesperson for NHS England said the report ignored the fact that CAMHS is expanding at the fastest rate in more than a decade.


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