A probe into a crisis in children’s mental health services in Kirklees has discovered health chiefs are spending less than they should.
And they have admitted there are “gaps in the service” – services that aren’t provided that should be.
Greater Huddersfield and North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) are investigating their own Children and Adolescents Mental Health Service (CAMHS) following reports of huge waiting lists of up to four years.
Earlier this year, embattled managers in charge of Kirklees’ CAMHS declared their own service “not fit for purpose”.
At a summit between Greater Huddersfield, Calderdale and North Kirklees clinical commissioning groups, the service operator, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYFT), reported it was “unable to meet the demand for both planned and emergency care”.
Three months on and the ongoing review has found less cash is being spent in this area than most.
A report for Greater Huddersfield CCG’s July Governing Body meeting says: “...a benchmarking exercise by the CCGs established that there is under investment on CAMHS as a whole in comparison to other comparative CCGs.”
A spokeswoman for North Kirklees and Greater Huddersfield (CCGs) said they couldn’t yet give a figure for the exact shortfall as work to establish the underspend and gaps in service was ongoing.
But the spokeswoman said three extra mental health practitioners and a team manager had been recruited to boost capacity.
The CCGs have also expressed an interest in an NHS pilot scheme to improve CAMHS.
A statement released by the CCGs in conjunction with SWYFT, said: “The national benchmark for core CAMHS services is £35 per head of child population. In Kirklees, we fall beneath this figure, mainly because of gaps in service provision. We are making significant efforts to address this and ensure that we develop services to meet identified local need.
“Work is underway to improve access to and treatment of children and young people with mental health needs in the Kirklees area.
“The demand for services has resulted in long waiting times in relation to a number of clinical areas and there have been difficulties in balancing the needs of those who require emergency services with those requiring planned services.
“All partners acknowledge the need to ensure that mental health has parity of esteem with physical health and recognise the importance of early intervention.
“They have therefore identified services for children and young people as a key priority.
“Accordingly, the CCGs have agreed to additional investment in the service, which the trust will use to increase access and treatment capacity to meet local needs.
“In particular, the funding will help to ensure more effective crisis and intensive care support, which will in turn reduce the need for young people to be admitted to hospital.
“It will also provide more resources for those who need planned care services.”