Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Concern over Sheffield children's mental health service

A Sheffield charity says children are being put at risk because of long waits to access mental health services.

Asperger's Children and Carers Together (ACCT) claimed that some patients were waiting up to a year to see a specialist.

One mother said her son, who had expressed suicidal thoughts, had waited eight months before getting treatment.

NHS Sheffield said that spending on its Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) had increased.

'Really concerned'

Deborah Woodhouse, director of ACCT, said that her charity had been contacted by a number of parents who were having difficulty getting access to specialist mental health treatment for their children.

"One child was self-harming and the mum couldn't get her in to CAMHS," said Ms Woodhouse.

"That was a young girl, she's only about seven. Obviously we felt really concerned. We try and support the families as well, but we really feel a child like that needs professional help."

One mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said that her son had had to wait eight months to see a specialist after his GP referred him to CAMHS after he said he felt suicidal.

"We ended up with months and months of him not able to go to school, not leaving the house, not able to eat without bringing his food back up again, not sleeping.

"We went through months of that kind of hell with no support whatsoever."

'Complex needs'

Dr Zak McMurray, clinical director at NHS Sheffield, said the authority had invested more than £2m in children's mental health services over the past few years.

He said that money was an issue, but the service was being redesigned to ensure that children got the most appropriate care.

Dr McMurray said: "The problem with some of the complex needs, the tier three service, is for children with quite complex needs who need quite a complex intervention.

"In many of these cases it's not just the financial resource, it's actually having the staff with the expertise that can manage these children."

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