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CCG funds for mental health fail to reach frontline services

CCG funds for mental health fail to reach frontline services

Clinical commissioning groups only received just over half of the promised funding for young people’s mental health
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Clinical commissioning groups only received just over half of the promised funding for young people’s mental health, according to a new think tank report.

In March 2015, the Government promised £1.25bn over five years, releasing £143m in the first year.

But according to the report from the Education Policy Institute Independent Commission on Children and Young People's Mental Health, CCGs only received £75m of the first year funding.

The report says it is not yet clear how much of this has been spent on frontline services, but reports from mental health providers indicate that they have not yet seen this increased investment.

For 2016-17, £119m was allocated to CCGs but this was included in their total baseline allocation.

Furthermore, the funding for children and young people’s mental health has not been ring-fenced and so there is a risk that it will be spent on other priorities, such as those covered by national targets, like A&E waiting times.

Dr Phil Moore, chair of the NHSCC Mental Health Commissioners Network, said the recommendations laid out in the report “will only be effective if it runs alongside mental health education in primary schools and continues throughout the education of young people”.

He said: “Earlier this year the Mental Health Commissioners Network took the unusual step of calling for funding for children and young people’s mental health services to be ring fenced.

“We did this because whilst we welcomed the additional funding announced by the government in 2015, giving vital additional money to invest in mental health services over the next five years, it is apparent that CCGs are dealing with increasingly financially challenging times and a myriad of competing demands on budgets.

“This, combined with the fact that children and young people’s mental healthcare is in desperate need of heavy investment having historically been treated as a ‘Cinderella service’, is why we believe this to be a rare case where funding should be ring-fenced.

“Only by doing this can commissioners be confident that there will be no risk of pressure to spend the money provided from the additional investment on anything other than achieving our ambition of making sure children and young people are provided with the best possible mental healthcare.”

The lack of funding has seen 23% of young people denied access to specialist mental health services after being referred by their GP.

The report says they are being denied care because of “high thresholds” to accessing the services.

It cites one example in which a service would not accept those who had expressed a desire to commit suicide “unless this had happened on more than one occasion”.

The report adds: “Something has to go drastically wrong before some services will intervene; the antithesis of an early intervention approach.”

The think tank also uncovered “hidden waits” as it was found that the median of the maximum waiting times for all providers was 6 months for a first appointment and nearly ten months for the start of treatment.

But some providers did not measure waiting times at all, which the think tank says means that some patients could even be waiting longer than this.

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