The Education Policy Institute has published a new report, The performance of the NHS in England in transforming children’s mental health services, which examines the progress made by the Government in improving children and young people’s mental health services (CAMHS).

The report analyses NHS England’s new ‘Mental Health Five Year Forward View Dashboard’, which tracks the performance of local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director, iHV, commented:

“Clearly there is much to be done to improve child mental health services. Investing upstream into more preventative capacity, such as in health visiting, would help stem the flow of young people requiring help from these services.”

Key findings
  • When assessing the overall performance of children and young people’s mental health services, we find almost three quarters (73.2 per cent) of CCGs failed to meet NHS England’s own benchmark for improving services.
  • In order to meet NHS England’s standard for crisis care performance CCGs must have an agreed plan to develop better local services. However, across England, less than a third of CCGs (31.6 per cent) had a fully funded plan to improve crisis care, with one in nine CCGs (10.5 per cent or 22 in total) having no agreed plan or funding set out.
  • Government policy states that no one under 18 should be treated on an adult ward – yet children spent a total of 2654 nights on an adult ward between July and September 2016. This increased by over a third compared to the last quarter (April to June 2016), although it is not yet possible to establish whether this is due to fluctuation or a longer trend.
  • There is wide variation between CCG’s planned spending per head – with those in the top quarter spending over £52 per capita, while those in the bottom quarter spend just £23, or less. This suggests that there is a postcode lottery in children and young people’s mental health care.