Care UK expert calls for more child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) care nearer home

NHS England is considering going out to tender for inpatient child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to overcome the problem of vulnerable young people being cared for many miles from their homes and families.
Martin Davies, director of specialist services, Care UK.
Martin Davies, director of specialist services, Care UK.
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* Care UK

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* Colchester - Essex - England

COLCHESTER, England - July 1, 2014 - PRLog -- There has been widespread concern about specialised CAMHS (also called Tier 4 services) and the NHS England freeze on commissioning new mental health services resulting in people having to travel long distances from home for their care.

However, NHS England recently told the Health Service Journal that it was looking into ways of reducing these long distance placements, which included putting services out to tender.

Care UK is one of the country’s leading independent health and social care providers and offers a range of mental health services ( young people. Martin Davies, director of specialist services at Care UK, gives his reaction to the possibility of the moratorium being lifted.

He said: “The specialist services team at Care UK, which includes the CAMHS Tier 4 eating disorder treatment atRhodes Farm ( North London, has identified significant gaps in provision across the country. Some areas are actually devoid of, or extremely light on, CAMHS beds. The lifting of the moratorium on new services can only be a good thing as it should allow patients to be treated closer to home.

“The treatment of young children at considerable distance from their home places a real strain on the entire family. With family therapy frequently being a treatment of choice, this can place an additional burden on parents who travel often hundreds of miles to participate – that is before considering the impact of them struggling to regularly visit an ill child in a hospital or residential setting.

“The young people we treat suffer from acute eating disorders and are therefore physically compromised as well as mentally. Their low body weight, and often dangerous behaviours centred on weight loss, means it is important that we have specialist beds. It is difficult for this to be addressed consistently and economically by community services because the need to provide expert support at all meal times is central to the child’s care. It would be near impossible to maintain sufficient workforce to achieve this with children being looked after at home.

“Specialist services such as Rhodes Farm can offer dedicated care to a number of children at a time and also have the resources for group psychological therapies. That is not to say that children and families should travel long distances to receive the care or treatment they need. I believe that all regions of the UK should have access to comparatively local and expert inpatient CAMHS eating disorder beds.

“At Rhodes Farm we see children from across the country with some as far away as Cumbria travelling to the North London service. We almost always have all 25 beds occupied and we carry a waiting list. I am aware from clinical colleagues in the South West that they are often required to utilise beds as far away as Manchester and beyond as no beds closer to home can be found. This cannot be good for the child or the family.

“We enjoy considerable success in returning children to safe weights and commencing the therapeutic journey required for recovery, however, the completion of this journey depends on the provision of specialist eating disorder support and therapy in the area the child lives. The capacity for community services to input sufficiently varies considerably across the country; most have small dedicated teams but they struggle to meet demand. This can result in a child relapsing and requiring yet more expensive treatment at long distance.

“If the moratorium is lifted I am sure that we and other specialist providers would have the desire to bring our expertise to new areas currently deprived of local specialist treatment centres. If, for instance, we provided a Tier 4 CAMHS eating disorder service in the South West region then we could explore ways were we could continue to support children when they return home, or at the very least have closer working relations with local community teams.

“The sooner NHS England publishes the findings of its review, which must acknowledge the dire shortages in Tier 4 CAMHS provision, the better – assuming that it must lead to the lifting of the moratorium on new services. Providers can then set about the task of ensuring children and families receive the treatment they require nearer to home.”

Thomas Cook
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