Greater Manchester child mental health care to get boost

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image captionAndy Burnham said publishing waiting time data would improve care standards

Greater Manchester is to become the first UK area to publish data about waiting times for child mental health services under new plans revealed by the region's mayor.

Mayor Andy Burnham said the figures would help authorities understand how to improve care for young people.

Mr Burnham said mental health care was a "poor relation" of the NHS.

His planned health reforms in the region also include guaranteeing jobs for nurses who study there.

Greater Manchester is the only city region in the UK which has devolved control of health spending, worth £6bn per year.

At the NHS Providers annual conference in Manchester, Mr Burnham said waiting times were a "national scandal" and publishing data "won't make easy reading for anybody".

"We are waking up to the scale of the challenge and we want to put policies in place to correct it, but it starts with revealing the truth," he said.

In his speech, he revealed a pilot scheme, backed by the voluntary sector, which is offering pupils at 30 schools help with their emotional wellbeing.

Afterwards, he said he wanted to roll the service out to every school in the region.

Easier referrals

Mr Burnham said there would be more help for university students to make referrals to mental health services easier and students will be able to keep the same GP throughout their studies.

Stewart Lucas, strategic director for mental health charity Mind, said the sharing of data would "name and shame parts of the service where it isn't working and help to provide transparency".

"There's a funding disparity between physical and mental health, which needs to change, and this data will help to make best use of resources available."

In his wider plans, Mr Burnham revealed healthcare staff would be based in neighbourhood offices alongside education, housing and employment services.

Mr Burnham said integrating services would allow the NHS and local authorities to provide care to those who needed it most.

The mayor said there was a £120m social care funding shortfall in Greater Manchester and extra investment would ease the burden on hospitals and GP surgeries.

The guaranteed places for nursing would begin for those starting courses from early 2019, he added.

He also said the country's first dedicated housing development for doctors and nurses would open in Salford later this month.

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