Vulnerable Children Being Refused Treatment Investigation Finds

Evidence suggests that vulnerable children are being refused critical mental health treatment, despite the recommendations of their GPs.

Figures acquired from mental health trusts indicate that around 60% of GP referrals to child and adolescent mental health services ultimately resulted in no further treatment.

One-third of such referrals are in fact never even assessed.

Evidence also suggests that the situation for young people with mental health issues is deteriorating, with the number of referrals which progress to treatment for this age group declining to 39% in 2015, down from 44% just two years ago.

Many doctors have found that child and adolescent mental health services often refuse to treat patients until their situation becomes extremely serious.

Accounts are common of services being denied until an individual had either attempted suicide or self-harmed.

Many cases of this nature are sent to school counsellors or charity services, despite GPs having requested specialist input.

These latest figures have emerged despite the fact that the government had previously promised to increase access to mental health services for younger people.

Central to this new policy had been an increase in funding of £1.4 billion, coupled with an initiative to encourage regions to produce explicit plans on how to collaborate in delivering child and adolescent mental health services.

Dr Karen Cox, a GP in Bristol, suggested that it is extremely common for referrals of young people with mental health difficulties to be blocked.

“Recently all referrals seem to get bounced. They’ve included children who self-harm, a child who was physically abusing his mother and a child with severe night terrors after the loss of his father. All of them were advised to contact local charitable organisations.”

The Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, had spoken only last month at the NHS Confederation conference on the issue of child and adolescent mental health services.

Stevens outlined that this aspect of the NHS is the most neglected of any individual mental health sector.

Commenting on the issue, a Department of Health spokesperson outlined the determination of the department to improve the situation.

“No child who needs help should be refused it. That is why we have introduced the first-ever mental health access and waiting time standards and are putting in a record £1.4bn to transform support for young people. This investment is just beginning, so will be making an increasing difference in the years ahead – every area in the country has produced plans on how they are going to work together to make sure young people get support before they reach a crisis point.”


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