NHS England has announced the next steps in its initiative to ensure that children and young people don’t have to travel far from home for mental health care, funding between 150-180 new beds.
The increase will be focused on those who are most unwell, be dependent on need and placed in under-served parts of the country.
It is a stated priority of the NHS to stop children and young people reaching crisis point by diagnosing and treating them at the earliest opportunity.
And the number receiving treatment has increased by 20,000 over the last three years.
A programme of work is underway to improve timely treatments in the community for those needing urgent or emergency assessment to reduce the number of hospital admissions.
There will be an expected increase of 35,000 treated through community services next year compared with 2014/15, with an extra 49,000 in two years.
Alongside this there are 67 newly established community eating disorders services being developed and recruitment to get the teams up to full capacity is also well under way.
This means at least 3,350 children and young people a year will receive swift, effective eating disorder treatment in the community.
The intention of this is to ensure that they will be treated earlier and no longer need to go into hospital.
Claire Murdoch, National Director for Mental Health at NHS England, suggested that the new initiative would have a massive impact on the health of children.
“We are committed to ending the need for children and young people travelling long distances for the right care. By increasing the availability of services in the community and ensuring the right beds are in the right place, we aim to ensure that those who need it will be able to receive the best care and treatment at home or as close to home as possible.”
Murdoch also outlined some of the achievements of the programme thus far.
“Around 120,000 more people are now getting the mental health care they need than three years ago. I believe we now have the biggest programme for talking therapies in the world, with more people receiving treatment than ever before. There will be more support for adults with expanded new crisis resolution home treatment teams, mental health professionals in GP practices and A&Es, and increased transparency on spending and performance with the new dashboard for mental health.”
And President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Simon Wessely, is also positive about the direction of mental health treatment.
“This is a leap in the right direction for the future of mental health provision in this country especially in regards to ending out of area placements for children and young people facing mental health crisis. We know that we can only provide adequate care for children and young people with beds and well-trained staff.”
But Wessely warned that there are dangerous indications from within the system as well.
“Recent figures show a 10% drop in child and adolescent psychiatrists, so we welcome proactive steps to address this. It is vital that a concerted effort is required to attract the best and the brightest into mental health services – from nurses, to therapists, to specialised psychiatrists. Just as you would expect a specialised medical professional if you needed cancer or heart treatment, you must also expect to receive specialised medical treatment for serious mental disorders.”