Inquiry impressed with Bucks mental health service

Cllr Val Letheren

Cllr Val Letheren

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Children facing mental health problems in Bucks are benefiting from the methods of a revamped county-wide service, councillors have heard.

The Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), which has an annual budget of approximately £5.4m, has been run by the Oxford Health Foundation Trust since last October.

It is managed in partnership with Barnardo’s and Beat, an organisation tackling eating disorders.

The new integrated service was set up with the aim of focusing of early intervention as well as making it easier for children to access services.

Members of the Children’s Social Care and Learning Select Committee at Buckinghamshire County Council met to question CAMHS leaders on how the new arrangements were working.

And select committee chairman Val Letheren said she was ‘hugely encouraged’ by what she heard at the meeting.

“Following the adverse publicity in the media about children’s mental health services nationally, we were anxious to be reassured that the service to Buckinghamshire children is not only satisfactory but is improving. It’s obviously very early days but it does seem that children are really benefiting from the way the service has been organised,” she said.

“My committee members asked lots of questions and I was pleased with the responses in terms of what the service appears to be doing for its young clients.”

Referrals are up 15% from last year and the committee was told that CAMHS served 3% of the under-19 population. But despite this, it still offers an emergency 24 hour service all year round.”

Cllr Letheren added: “I don’t know how many people are aware of how good a service we have here. For instance, the work they do with eating disorders, and their commitment to giving early support and crisis intervention sounds very impressive. They appear to be working well across the spectrum of mental health services, so I do hope that people who need their services will be made aware how to engage with them. We were very pleased to see the way this has created a direct link with both primary and secondary schools. This shows partnership working at its best.”

Lin Hazell, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at the County Council, added: “I’m really pleased that the service continues to work well to engage with our children and young people who need our support.”

The select committee will meet again with CAMHS representatives later this year to check on progress.

To find out more about the CAMHS, go to http://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/children-and-young-people/bucks/community-camhs/

The detailed report to the select committee in April can be accessed here: https://democracy.buckscc.gov.uk/documents/s77818/Report%20for%20Child%20Adolescent%20Mental%20Health%20Services.pdf