Primary care trusts need to “improve their performance” on providing child and adolescent mental health services for children and young people with learning disabilities.

Data from the Department of Health’s first quarter report, published last week, shows that despite “dramatic increases” in access to these services between April and December 2008, access to CAMHS for children and young people with learning disabilities has started to plateau.

Access to these services is reported on a scale of one to four, with one being the lowest and four the best access. In the first three quarters of 2008-09, the number of PCTs scoring four increased from 45 to 68, while the number of PCTs scoring only one or two decreased from eight to zero.

However, the report shows that between January and March 2009, one PCT scored two on the scale and the number scoring four only increased slightly to 70.

The number of PCTs scoring two on the scale increased to two between April and June 2009, while the number of PCTs scoring four - indicating the highest access to services – held steady at 70.

The report authors said the findings are “concerning” and said that PCTs need to examine whether they have plans in place for improving their performance in this area.

They also suggested that PCTs should look at whether they require additional support to achieve the higher standards.

The report, which looked at four proxies for CAMHS, showed that PCTs are performing best in providing 24-hour cover and age appropriate services for 16 and 17 year olds.

While still low, scores for the newest proxy – providing a full range of early intervention and support services commissioned by local authorities in partnership with the PCT – are increasing as “areas come to grips with it”, the report authors said.