Families let down by mental health service
Report from watchdog says current ‘desperate’ situation can’t continue
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’.