Cornwall child mental health services criticised

Anonymous child holding head in hands Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Cornwall Council's Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee said there are not enough beds for mental health care

Mental health services for children and young people in Cornwall have been criticised in a report.

Hospitals do not have enough beds while staff do not have enough knowledge about whether patients are getting better or not, according to a council scrutiny committee.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is run by the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust blamed budget and staff constraints.

'Not reassured'

Dr Liz Myers, a consultant child psychiatrist at CAMHS, told BBC News she was driven to tears by the report, which she says is unfair.

"I am not reassured that there's a real understanding of the pressures and complexities being faced by doctors and other mental health professionals trying to deliver high quality mental health services to young people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly," said Dr Myers.

A spokesperson from CAMHS said the service needed an extra £800,000 a year, on top of its current £5.2 million annual budget, to pay for a further 19 staff.

NHS Kernow is Cornwall's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is the GP body responsible for procuring health services on behalf of patients.

CCGs largely replaced primary care trusts in 2012.

Barbara Gregory, NHS Kernow's chief finance officer, said: "We are always looking at how we can improve services for children and young people in Cornwall and welcome the recommendations of the Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee."

She said the CCG will work with NHS England, the council and the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, on an action plan to improve services and support.

The report was welcomed by Steve and Sharon Cowburn whose 18-year-old son Ben died while at the Longreach Mental Health Unit in Redruth in 2010.

They say it reinforces their call for a specialist unit with beds to deal with young people with mental health problems.

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