• Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust has launched a review of the treatment of 1,400 patients in its children and young people’s mental health service
  • The review was prompted by fears some patients with autism and ADHD were being treated with “medication only” approaches by the previous provider
  • It comes amid wider concerns over waiting times and access rates

Fears over the “inappropriate” treatment of children and young people with autism has prompted a review of hundreds of patients in a trust’s under pressure mental health service.

Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust has confirmed it is reviewing the care of 1,400 patients within the children and adolescent mental health service it provides in Shropshire. 

The trust, which took over the service in May 2017, has launched the review after it identified concerns that some patients with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were being treated with “medication only approaches” under the previous provider, Shropshire Community Health Trust.

The news comes amid a national campaign, headed by NHS England, to stop the over medication of people with learning disabilities and autism with psychotropic medicines. 

In June 2018, NHS Improvement’s intensive support team were invited by Midlands Partnership FT to carry out a review of the service.

In a board paper published on 10 October, Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The background to [the intensive support team’s] visit was that both CCGs [Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin] had missed the 30 per cent access target for 17/18, there had been concerns about waiting times and inappropriate treatment since taking over from the previous provider and, a significant number of ‘legacy’ children and young people being treated for a conduct disorder or ASD/ADHD being treated with medication only approaches.” 

The trust told HSJ in a statement that it is now reviewing the care of 1,400 patients to establish the proportion that are being treated with medication for autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. 

The statement added: “[We] are working with the children and young people and their families to reduce prescribing where clinically indicated.”

The provider is also dealing with a backlog of referrals it had discovered when taking over the service last year. According to board papers for Telford and Wrekin CCG, published in September, the number of children and young people on the waiting list as of June 2018 was 1,042. 

The trust said it was unable to confirm the current number of patients on its waiting list. 

Earlier this year HSJ reported that Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin CCGs had sent a letter to neighbouring commissioners warning the service would not have capacity to meet routine referrals for children in care who were deemed to be out of area. However, the move was blocked by NHS England.

In February this year, a coroner raised concerns about the previous service, in a preventing future deaths report, following the death of a 14 year old boy in January 2017.

Shropshire Community Trust was approached for comment