Mental Health Services: Children and Young People

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 31 January 2024.

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Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Independent, St Helens North

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average waiting time was for child and adolescent mental health services in (a) St Helens North constituency and (b) the North West in the latest period for which data is available; and what steps she is taking to reduce those waiting times.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

Since 2018, we have invested an extra £2.3 billion a year to expand mental health services in England, with the aim of enabling two million more people, including 345,000 more children and young people to access mental health support.

We’re rolling out mental health support teams to schools and colleges. These now cover approximately 35% of pupils and are expected to reach 50% of pupils by March 2025. NHS England is also developing a new waiting time standard for children and their families to receive community-based mental health care within four weeks of referral.

Whilst the relevant data is not available at a constituency level, the following table shows the number of referrals for children and young people aged under 18 years old, supported through National Health Service-funded mental health, and waiting times for first contact between September and November 2023 for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB), North West Commissioning Region, and England:


Number of referrals

Median waiting time between referral start date and first contact

90th percentile waiting time between referral start date and first contact

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB


21 days

469 days

North West Commissioning Region


11 days

250 days



13 days

225 days

Source: Mental Health Services Data Set, NHS England


  1. These metrics are in line with the proposed new waiting time standards for mental health but are not yet associated with a target, due to significant data quality concerns on the part of NHS England.

The 90th percentile waiting time was 469 days meaning 10% of children and young people who received a first contact in this period waited over 469 days.

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