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Ensure children with serious mental health conditions are seen within an appropriate timeframe

Last updated: 12:54pm 7 June 2019

And we will reform Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services so that children with serious conditions are seen within an appropriate timeframe and no child has to leave their local area and their family to receive normal treatment.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.73

Our verdict

This policy focuses on the first part of the manifesto quote – the “appropriate timeframe”. For the second part about local mental health services for children, see the section below.

According to the most recent national survey data on trends in child mental health, “one in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19-year-olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed”. This policy promises to reform provision in order to limit any delays in supporting children with “serious conditions”.

In its July 2018 response to a green paper consultation, Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision, the government laid out plans to implement three core proposals:

  • incentivise and support all schools and colleges to identify and train a Designated Senior Lead for mental health
  • fund new Mental Health Support Teams
  • pilot a four-week waiting time for access to specialist NHS children and young people’s mental health services

Responses to the green paper proposals were also probed by focus group research in August 2018.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, further outlined strategies to deliver on those proposals, as well as a range of other reforms to children and young people’s mental health services.

In light of extensive government consultation, and the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan, we consider this policy to be ‘in progress’. We will continue tracking the implementation of initiatives detailed in the Long Term Plan, and we’ll be looking for a broad consensus across the health sector that any changes to waiting times are seen as “appropriate”. Follow this policy for updates.

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