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Mental Health Services: Children and Young People

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the NHS Long Term Plan, what progress his Department has made on the commitment to introduce waiting time targets for Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services; and if he will publish the results of waiting time pilots for those services.

Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

We are making good progress towards the children and young people’s eating disorder waiting time target, with the latest data (April – June 2019) showing:

  • 77.7% of young people started treatment for an urgent case within one week against a target of 95% by 2020/21; and
  • 83.4% of young people started treatment for a routine case within four weeks against a target of 95% by 2020/21.

The NHS Long Term Plan commits the National Health Service to test comprehensive waiting time standards for adults and children over the next decade. This builds on the already established waiting time standards for children and young people’s eating disorder services, early intervention for psychosis that covers all ages and adult Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services. All of these standards are being met or are on track for delivery by 2020/21, in line with previous commitments.

With regard to waiting time targets for children and young people’s mental health services, NHS England is currently working with 12 pilot sites nationally to test approaches that could feasibly deliver a four-week waiting time for access to NHS support. Delivering and maintaining a waiting time across the large and complex children and young people’s mental health pathway is a challenge, and we are proceeding carefully so as not to establish any perverse incentives.

The pilots will test not only what it takes to achieve and maintain a four-week waiting time, but also how best to define and measure this access to specialist children and young people’s mental health services.

The agreed pilots end in 2020/21. Results will then be evaluated, and this will inform a recommendation to Government on the potential development and roll out of access and waiting time standards for all children and young people who need specialist mental health services.

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