Fam­i­lies let down by men­tal health ser­vice

Re­port from watchdog says cur­rent ‘des­per­ate’ sit­u­a­tion can’t con­tinue

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A HEALTH watchdog has flagged up the “des­per­ate” state of men­tal health ser­vices in Hilling­don.

Healthwatch Hilling­don’s re­port ‘Seen & Heard – Why not now?’ blames un­cer­tain fund­ing, a lack of early in­ter­ven­tion and frag­mented ser­vices for com­pound­ing the prob­lems and has called for ur­gent im­prove­ments.

It claims lo­cal fam­i­lies are be­ing let down and high­lighted the case of ‘Sally’, whose daugh­ter waited 10 months for an ap­point­ment with a Chil­dren and Ado­les­cent Men­tal Health Care (CAMHS) spe­cial­ist over her self harm­ing.

The mum, who lives and works in the bor­ough, said: “I would call CAMHS ev­ery week but they would only say she’s on the wait­ing list. What I needed was tips and ad­vice while we were wait­ing, some­thing to hang-on to, but noth­ing was forth­com­ing.”

Sally’s daugh­ter even­tu­ally saw a trainee for up to six ses­sions, but car­ried on self-harm­ing and not eat­ing. She has to re­ceive home tu­ition as she’s too ill to go to school.

The wor­ried mum added: “My daugh­ter is in a liv­ing hell but what does it take for her to get the treat­ment she needs to get bet­ter? You wouldn’t treat a child that was sick with can­cer in the same way.”

Graham Hawkes, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Healthwatch Hilling­don – whose first re­port, ‘Lis­ten to me!’ be­came a cat­a­lyst for change – said: “Our re­port looks into the far reach­ing ef­fect men­tal ill­ness has on lo­cal chil­dren. It high­lights how this im­pacts on all as­pects of their life and the ways in which they were sup­ported and cared for. Us­ing this in­sight Healthwatch Hilling­don will be look­ing to in­flu­ence how fu­ture care and sup­port is pro­vided in Hilling­don.”

Around 1,500 11-16 year olds are thought to have self-harmed or at­tempted sui­cide in Hilling­don. By 2021, nearly 5,000 chil­dren will have a men­tal health dis­or­der, says the re­port. Healthcare pro­fes­sion­als who spoke to Healthwatch Hilling­don, said: “We can’t carry on in a sit­u­a­tion where A&E is the only path­way.”

Another said: “We’re hav­ing to dis­charge young peo­ple who self-harm from A&E with­out com­mu­nity-based re­sources to re­fer them to.”

Cen­tral North West Lon­don NHS Foun­da­tion Trust (CNWL), which is re­spon­si­ble for Hilling­don’s men­tal health care apol­o­gised for the wait­ing times. A spokesman added: “Our treat­ment wait­ing list, which reached over 100 wait­ing for 12 months, has now re­duced to an av­er­age of seven months. How­ever, de­mand is grow­ing with an in­crease in the most se­ri­ous cases and de­lib­er­ate self harm pre­sen­ta­tions to A&E.”

The trust said it will con­tinue to work on ‘im­me­di­ate im­prove­ments’.

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