Access to child and adolescent mental health services in England is improving overall but remains patchy, according to an ongoing survey published by the Department of Health.

Access to child and adolescent mental health services in England is improving overall but remains patchy, according to an ongoing survey published by the Department of Health.

The CAMHS mapping exercise 2005 shows that budgets have risen by 18 per cent on the previous year and staffing levels by 11 per cent, both ahead of target. The number of new cases increased by 12 per cent and overall caseload rose by eight per cent, taking it to 112,984.

But YoungMinds, the national charity for child and adolescent mental health, warned that the government's own targets of achieving comprehensive services by the end of this year were unlikely to be met. This was first flagged in a leaked letter from an official from the DoH recovery and support unit in July.

Kathryn Pugh, YoungMinds policy lead, said: 'There have been definite improvements in mental health services for children and young people in certain regions. Although it is extremely important that these achievement are recognised and the hard work of the CAHMS teams applauded, the leaked letter shows that the target for comprehensive CAHMS across the country by December 2006 may not be met.'

Junior health minister Ivan Lewis said the results were encouraging, but acknowledged there was a long way to go.