Children and young people accessing mental health services in Wales continue to be put at risk, says report

A follow up review of safety issues inChild and Adolescent Mental Health Services by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales(HIW) and the Wales Audit Office (WAO) has found that children and young peopleaccessing mental health services in Wales continue to be put at risk.

The review focuses on action taken bythe Welsh Government and health boards in response to the safety concernsidentified in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) report publishedin 2009.

The follow up report acknowledges thatthe Welsh Government and health boards have made some progress in addressingthe safety issues highlighted in the 2009 report. The improvements made includerevised policies and procedures, strengthened training, and expanded communitysupport services.

However, despite improvements, therisks identified in the 2009 report remain: some children and young people arestill being inappropriately admitted to adult mental health wards, healthprofessionals are failing to always share information and act on theirsafeguarding duties, and unsafe discharge practices persist.

Community services providing intensivesupport have been expanded in recent years, and there are plans to expand theseservices further. However, they will still not be available in all parts ofWales, and in those areas which lack this service there is greater dependenceon inpatient services. Young people continue to be admitted inappropriately toadult mental health wards, and measures to reduce the risks faced by youngpeople in these circumstances have not been completely successful. A lack ofcapacity at the two specialist CAMHS units in Wales is also resulting inchildren and young people having to be placed out of the area in which theylive to receive treatment.

The Auditor General for Wales HuwVaughan Thomas said: “Despite the steps taken to address the safetyconcerns raised in the 2009 report, children and young people continue to beput at risk. The Welsh Government therefore needs to take a stronger grip toensure that health boards are designing and delivering services which protectchildren and young people and minimise the risks to them”

Chief Executive for Health InspectorateWales Kate Chamberlain said: “The problems with delivering safe mentalhealth services for children and young people identified in 2009 still remain,and there are considerable challenges for Health Boards to address indeveloping services and changing professional practices on the ground. HealthInspectorate Wales will continue to monitor progress being made across Wales inimproving the effectiveness and safety of services delivered to children andyoung people.”

Speaking to the BBC, Hafal CEO Bill Walden-Jonessaid: “While we acknowledge the progress highlighted in the report it is disappointingto see that services on the frontline for children and young people with aserious mental illness still fall far short of an acceptable standard. It is,for example, completely unacceptable for young people with a serious mentalillness to be treated on adult wards.

“The crucial issue for young peoplewith a serious mental illness is early intervention. The earlier a mentalillness is treated the greater the chance of a successful recovery. If left untreatedthere is a greater risk of negative long-term effects such as unemployment. Thefamilies of young people with a serious mental illness can also endure enormousstrain.

“It is also vital that mental healthprofessionals share information and act on their safeguarding duties as thereport recommends.”

To read the report go to: