Derbyshire children face four month wait for mental health assessment
Young people with mental health issues in Derbyshire are currently waiting more than four months for assessment, a problem not solely caused by the pandemic.
The number of children and adolescents seeking help for mental health issues is increasing and this is adding to the backlog in appointments.
As of the latest data, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the lead for mental health in the county and city, says there are 480 people waiting for an appointment and the average waiting time is now 18 weeks.
The trust is now planning a “waiting list blitz” for around a month from September 27 to October 29 (with a week’s break in the middle) with an aim to carry out 320 assessments and reduce the longest waiting time to six weeks.
NHS England, in a report included in this week’s trust board meeting, says “children and young people have been particularly impacted by Covid-19, with interruptions to social and educational support”.
It says eating disorders among children and young people have doubled as a result and routine cases have increased more than 31 per cent.
Charts published by the trust in its board papers show the children and adolescents mental health services average wait hit an all-time high of 25 weeks in June last year, coming down from the first wave of the pandemic.
This peak also saw a high of more than 500 children and young people waiting for appointments.
It also shows that the average wait list in August 2019, far before the pandemic, was already at 14 weeks.
Alongside this there were already way in excess of 400 children and young people waiting to be assessed for their mental health issues.
Ade Odunlade, chief operating officer at the Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation trust, said in a board meeting this week that a lot of work was being put in by staff to reduce the backlog and that the organisation was continuing to drive performance.
In March, Dean Wallace, public health director at Derbyshire County Council, said he and his team were dealing with “tsunamis” of public health issues which would dominate the county once Covid-19 takes a back seat, issues which have been put on the back-burner for the past year. This included mental health.
A spokesperson for the Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services service, similar to many other CAMHS nationally, is experiencing an increase in activity.
“We are pleased to have investment into services which has been recently agreed from national announcements last year.
“The impact of school closures and the alterations to services during the pandemic means we are now in a process of service recovery.
“We are commencing a targeted focus on our waiting lists in September 2021 which will aim to reduce the waiting times for young people.”
To find our more about mental health issues impacting young people and children, visit https://www.youngminds.org.uk/, a charity that provides information and advice to young people, and parents and carers.