Major investment in child mental health services in Cumbria revealed
AN additional million pounds is being invested in mental health services for children every year for the next five years in a landmark pledge to tackle problems within the stretched sector.
The cash injection is being put into creating a young person's community eating disorder service which will see NHS specialist nurses visit and treat vulnerable patients in their own homes across the county.
The Evening Mail's Healthy Young Minds campaign has been pressing for revolution within psychiatric services for children and adolescents which have been long criticised for putting lives in danger due to long waiting lists and and poor access to emergency support.
However, the funding, made available from NHS England, hopes to cut the pressure on staff, promote early intervention and stop anorexic children needing to go to hospital.
Although the exact details are yet to be decided, the money will set up a Cumbria-based community eating disorder service, employing and training specialist nurses to visit children and provide them with the regular psychological and physical support they need.
In addition to the eating disorder service, the £5m investment will support improvements in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs) in Cumbria, particularly in providing out of hours help.
John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness, has cautiously welcomed the investment.
He said: "A funding review of the mental health services for children and teenagers in Cumbria was long overdue and as a result many of our young people were being let down and left in a dreadful state.
"I fully support the Evening Mail’s campaign which is making a difference by pressing the authorities to take action and this investment is very welcome news, though I fear it will take more than this to correct the chronic under investment in this area."
The money has been awarded after Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and Cumbria County Council submitted a 'Children and Young People’s Emotional Health and Well-being Transformation Plan' to NHS England.
Dr Mandy Boardman, GP lead for children and safeguarding for NHS Cumbria CCG, said: "It is an exciting opportunity to invest in new services allowing children and young people to receive the support they need closer to home, in a familiar place with the support of their family and friends.
"We hope this new service will then avoid the need for hospital treatment for eating disorders wherever possible."
The eating disorder service will be commissioned and supported by Cumbria CCG and will run alongside other mental health services that are provided by Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust as part of their whole system approach.
A mother who contacted the Evening Mail last year about her teenage daughter's delay in getting treatment for anxiety and developing anorexia also welcomed the news.
She said: "Definitely, I welcome the idea. It's long overdue but it's small steps at this time.
"Things can only get better. I don't think it could have got any worse for us.
"We need to keep going. Children shouldn't have to deal with it on their own."
See today's Evening Mail for an explainer of how the system will work with Dr Boardman and more on the Healthy Young Minds campaign.