• NHS England will approach 10 to 20 areas to become “trailblazer” sites for new children and young people’s mental health services
  • The regions will pilot the three main proposals outlined in the Department of Health and Social Care’s CYP mental health green paper
  • The sites will be chosen on the basis of hitting mental health spending and access targets and having “robust” data
  • The DHSC estimates the plans will cost more than £1.5bn by 2027-28.

Between 10 and 20 regions will be selected as “trailblazer” sites to test out £1.3bn proposals to improve children and young people’s mental health.

NHS England’s regional teams will approach areas which meet new criteria to be testbed sites over the next few weeks, with the final decision to be announced in the autumn.

Each trailblazer region will be expected to pilot the three main proposals of the Department of Health and Social Care transforming children and young people’s mental health green paper to:

  • Create new mental health support teams to support children and young people in and near their schools;
  • Train designated mental health leads in schools and colleges; and
  • Pilot a new four hour access target for specialist children and young people’s mental health services with £50m set aside up to 2020-21.

The DHSC announced this week that it has selected seven institutions to train up to 8,000 new mental health staff through a new mental health practitioner qualification being drawn up by Health Education England and NHS England.

The decision follows a consultation on the DHSC’s transforming children and young people’s mental health green paper, published last year.

In the response, published on Wednesday, the DHSC said between 10 to 20 “trailblazer” sites will be selected by the autumn and go live by the end of next year.

These sites will be a mix of rural and urban areas and “selected on a regional basis, ensuring they are sufficiently close to the new training which will be provided”.

The performance of the trailblazer sites will be assessed before the plans are rolled out further, with the aim of covering a fifth of the country by 2022-23.

To become a trailblazer, regions will need to:

  • Demonstrate robust data collection in order to measure how they are performing against the four hour target pilot and the impact of the MHSTs on NHS referrals;
  • Meet the expected levels of investment in mental health; and
  • Demonstrate progress in increasing access to CYP mental health services.

The response said it will monitor regions to make sure they do not raise thresholds or reduce access to existing services in order to meet the new target.

It added: “Areas will be asked to provide evidence that they meet a number of criteria but most importantly that they have a good knowledge of the mental health needs of their children and young people and strong leadership from both health and education on driving improvement of mental health services.”

The department’s impact assessment revealed that the plans will cost about £1.59bn by 2027-28, with training and salaries for the mental health support teams estimated to cost the NHS £1.3bn.

But it warns that rolling out the new teams depends on securing long term funding, with the cash for the new MHSTs expected to come from the long term NHS plan being drawn up by NHS England and due to be published by November.

It added: “The actual workforce size will be subject to local areas testing what provision is needed. In addition, roll out of MHSTs depends on securing the necessary long term funding.”

Each area will agree with the DHSC the proportion of children and young people to be seen within the target. It will apply to all types of referral including self and GP referrals, but not to crisis care.