Mental health services still failing children

27 Nov 09
Children’s mental health services in Wales have failed to improve sufficiently despite development funding and the introduction of staff in vital areas, a joint inspection has found
By Paul Dicken in Cardiff

27 November 2009

Children’s mental health services in Wales have failed to improve sufficiently despite development funding and the introduction of staff in vital areas, a joint inspection has found.

The review of mental health services in Wales for children and young people, the first joint inspection of this kind into a service, said funding had been allocated to develop family intervention services, expand school-based counselling and recruit primary mental health workers.

But services were still failing many children, it added.

The Healthcare Inspectorate and Wales Audit Office, supported by education watchdog Estyn and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, found further improvements were prevented by poor co-ordination of services in some areas.

Service planning and provision was also based more on assessing whether a person’s needs met criteria than on building services around needs.

The review report, published on November 24, said there were ‘unacceptable variations’ across Wales in the accessibility and quality of services.

Steve Ashcroft, joint project manager at the Wales Audit Office, told Public Finance that better clarity around reforms, simpler planning arrangements and improved monitoring locally and nationally would further improve the services.

‘I would highlight a lack of clarity about exactly what we are trying to achieve with services. Take community intensive therapy: it is not clear whether the Welsh Assembly Government believes it is a good model to pursue or not. If it is a good model, we should be aiming to have that type of service across Wales.’

Improving mental health services is a priority for the One Wales coalition government. Responding to the report, Health Minister Edwina Hart said the findings were ‘well out of date’ and did not reflect the wider improvements in services.

‘In addition to the improvements that the report highlights, both speed of access to services and staff numbers have increased in the past two years.’

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