broken_image Broken

Health Health

Provide local mental health treatment for children

Last updated: 10:54am 8 November 2019

And we will reform Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services so that […] no child has to leave their local area and their family to receive normal treatment.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.73

Our verdict

In September 2018, 286,221 people aged under 19 were in contact with mental health services. At the same time, there are workforce shortages in mental health services for young people. This means some young people have to travel hundreds of miles to receive treatment far from their home, family and friends. The Children’s Commissioner estimates that in 2018, 1 in 7 children aged over 16 who were in care experienced multiple placement moves. The government promised to reform Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services so that no child has to leave their local area to receive normal treatment.

In June 2017, the NHS announced that 11 new sites would take part in a pilot to test new approaches to mental health intended to cut the number of patients travelling long distances for care.

In July 2018, the government published its response to a green paper consultation on children and young people’s mental health provision, revealing that it would roll out a new “trailblazer” pilot project using locally based Mental Health Support Teams.

According to recent figures, in the first six months of 2018, 587 children and adolescents were admitted to mental health units outside their area. This is roughly equivalent to the rate in 2017.

We cannot obtain comprehensive data for 2019. The Children’s Commissioner lists the lack of published data as a significant gap in recorded and released information.

However, a report from the Children’s Commissioner shows that 60 children with learning disabilities and autism were admitted to out-of-area mental health wards in Feburary 2019. In October 2019, an NHS taskforce was announced aimed at reducing inappropriate child admissions, including out-of-area placements, indicating that the problem persists.

Welcoming the taskforce, NHS Providers said:

“…we have to be realistic about how quickly progress can be made… the taskforce’s ability to succeed in rapidly improving care will be severely hampered if the gaps in the mental health workforce and the lack of capital investment remain unaddressed”

This policy promised “no child” would have to leave their local area, but the most recent evidence shows many children still having to travel miles from home for treatment. The government have not achieved their objective. This pledge is ‘broken’.

Still curious? Dig deeper

Related policy

There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.