A new report has revealed that money intended for mental health provision for children in England is not reaching front-line services.
The report, by the Education Policy Institute Independent Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health, says that millions of pounds of funding is being diverted to help offset cuts to NHS services elsewhere.
The independent commission was overseen by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, a former health minister, who says that much of the money promised by the coalition government in 2015 has failed to reach front-line services.
The government pledged an extra £250 million a year to improve child mental health services in England, but according to the report only £75 million made it to the clinical commissioning groups in charge of the services.
This has led to staff recruitment difficulties, including among mental health nurses and psychiatrists, which has prevented some young people from accessing services. According to the report, up to 23% of young people are being turned away by specialist services due to ‘high thresholds’ for accessing services.
Bev Humphrey, Chairwoman of the Mental Health Network, said the government had failed to fulfil its promises regarding funding. She said: ‘This situation means underfunded NHS and social services are struggling to help the growing number of children experiencing serious mental health problems.
‘With many services almost at breaking point the commission is right – it really is time to deliver.’
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said child mental health services remained a priority, adding: ‘We are already investing £1.4 billion to help make sure children get the right care, and every area in the country has put together plans on how they will spend the money to transform children’s mental health services.
‘We are also strengthening the links between schools and mental health services, and driving forward innovation to improve prevention and early support.’