The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership

Children wait too long for treatment

An HSJ investigation has revealed hundreds of young people assessed as needing specialist mental health treatment have been made to wait more than a year.

It found that 539 children assessed as needing Tier 3 child and adolescent mental health services care waited more than a year to start treatment.

Of the 11,482 young people assessed as needing specialist care, 5,648, or 50 per cent, waited more than 18 weeks. A total of 539 waited more than a year with one child waiting nearly two and a half years. Only 1,630, or 14 per cent, began treatment within four weeks.

But the true numbers waiting could be much higher, as only 33 out of the 50 trusts approached by HSJ responded to Freedom of Information requests with data for 2017-18.

It is not the first time that CAMHS has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, with the Care Quality Commission branding services “fragmented” last year. The watchdog’s review of CYP services, commissioned by prime minister Theresa May and published in March this year, also called for improvements to be delivered more quickly.

This is despite the services being prioritised by leaders across the NHS, government – all the way up to Mrs May herself.

The government’s pledge of £50m to trial a new four week access target for CAMHS as well as additional funding for new mental health support teams and designated leads at school is welcome.

But charity YoungMinds has said this does not go far enough and will not help children who need urgent help now, and it reiterated calls for children’s services to be given more cash in the long term plan. However, with so many competing demands, it is not clear how much it will get.

Trust jumps two ratings in CQC inspection

Far from central London and the pinnacles of specialty medicine, down in the leafy suburbs, sits the capital’s first acute trust to be rated outstanding for its leadership.

Chief executive, Ann Radmore, and her colleagues have turned around the fortunes of Kingston Hospital Foundation Trust. In 2016 the CQC said overall it required improvement; in 2018 they think it’s outstanding.

That makes it only the second acute trust in England, by our count, to jump two grades in a single bound.

The inspectors were impressed with the way the trust created an environment where staff could be open and honest about problems so they could learn from mistakes. The CQC also praised on the trust’s “extremely caring” staff and the extra efforts they put into caring for patients with dementia.

London is not short of well thought-of trusts. But even the likes of Chelsea and Westminster and Guy’s and St Thomas’ have had to make do with a good rating for their leadership. The London Ambulance Service Trust’s leadership has recently been praised by the inspectors, partly for their success in turning round performance. Ms Radmore was chief executive there for two years until the start of 2015.