• New analysis from charity YoungMinds reveals 23 per cent of STPs had not made clear commitments to improve children and young people’s mental health
  • It has sparked a call from the charity to refresh the plans to meet the goals set out in the Mental Health Forward View and Future in Mind
  • The charity has written to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens asking him to renew the commitment to the sector beyond 2020-21

Almost one in four STP regions are failing to make clear commitments to improve services for children and young people suffering poor mental health, HSJ can reveal.

An analysis of all 44 sustainability and transformation partnership plans by the charity YoungMinds, and shared with HSJ, examined areas based on how visible their plans were for supporting children and young people with poor mental health.

The study ranked STPs as having either a strong, partial or poor visibility based on whether the STP had plans to meet specific targets or standards in the Mental Health Forward View implementation plan and Future in Mind reports.

The analysis found plans for CYP mental health in 23 per cent of STPs were of “poor visibility”, with “no clear evidence of any commitment or plan to improve performance against national priorities”.

This compared to 41 per cent of STP plans ranked as giving CYP mental health plans “partial visibility” and only 30 per cent giving them a “strong visibility”.

YoungMinds branded the findings “disappointing” and said it was crucial the national targets for CYP mental health services set out in the two reports were prioritised.

Its policy and evidence director Dr Marc Bush has written to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens calling for a renewed commitment to children’s mental health beyond the Mental Health Forward View.

In the letter, seen by HSJ, Dr Bush said STP plans should be refreshed to make clear commitments to improving young people’s mental health.

He added: “In the short term, we believe there needs to be more support for STPs and local areas to align their work, and increase the visibility on progress towards the targets set out in the FYFVMH.

“To this end, we are calling for refreshed STP plans to be published to make clear the commitment to improving children and young people’s mental health services.”

His letter comes just days after prime minister Theresa May promised to increase NHS England’s budget by 3.4 per cent a year until 2023-24 and stressed this must be used to draw up a 10-year plan which will lead to improvements in key services including mental health.

In a statement Dr Bush said: “STP plans should set out the priorities for health and social care in each area, so it is disappointing that so many of them do not include sufficient commitments to improving children’s mental health services.

“In reality, we know from our own experience that there is really good work happening on the ground in some of those areas, but if this isn’t reflected in the plans, then that work could be undermined.”

But an NHS England spokesman said the analysis was out of date and did not investigate how effectively services were being transformed at a local level.

He added: ”The original STP plans were just a starting point and, while there’s more to do, the NHS is now significantly expanding access to mental health services so that by 2021 an additional 70,000 children and young people will have received evidence-based treatment and all STP areas are contributing to this.”

Coroner warns of underfunded CAMHS services

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been warned a regional child and adolescent mental health service is underfunded following the death of a teenage girl.

Senior coroner for Cumbria David Roberts has sent a prevention of future deaths report to the secretary of state outlining his concerns about the region’s CAMHS services.

In the regulation 28 report Mr Roberts said he was concerned about:

  • Mental health services for children and young people in Cumbria being underfunded;
  • The long delays in getting treatment;
  • Young people growing up with unresolved mental health issues due to a failure to provide treatment; and
  • The financial cost to other services such as police, hospital staff, inquests and trust legal representation which could be spent on prevention.

He added that he had sent the report to Mr Hunt because it was likely these problems were replicated across the country.

It follows his investigation into the death of Karen Edgar who was found hanged by a dressing gown cord in a wardrobe in her bedroom in April 2017.

At an inquest April this year Mr Roberts recorded a verdict of misadventure because he believed she intended to be found before her death. He his concerns to Cumbria Partnership FT, North Cumbria and Morecambe Bay clinical commissioning groups and the Department of Health and Social Care.