Waits for child mental health care are 'real problem'

Unhappy girl Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Oxford Health said demand for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service was increasing year-on-year

Children who have been referred for mental health assessments in Oxfordshire have faced waits of more than six months.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said 75% of the time they should be seen within eight weeks.

But a report for its board said: "Waiting times remain some way below target, with 38% of referrals assessed within eight weeks."

Oxford Health NHS trust said the waits did not meet its "high standards".

The report also added that recruiting enough staff remains "a persistent challenge".

'Very disheartening'

Oxford GP Dr Helen Salisbury said some patients have had real problems accessing support from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

She said children and adolescents often took a long time to seek help, and added: "It can be very disheartening when you know they will then have another six months or more before they actually get any help."

Dr Salisbury also described how some patients had become too old for the service by the time they were seen, and had to start queuing again.

Dr Wendy Woodhouse, a clinical director at service provider Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: "It is a very big priority, we have been recruiting staff, we've been changing the structure of our assessment clinics."

She added that it was a national problem and she was "confident the situation will improve" although it would take "a bit of time".

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