Stevenage GP calls for further action as 'unprecedented' demand grows for children's mental health services in Herts
PUBLISHED: 11:06 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:06 06 February 2020
A leading general practitioner has called for a new approach to be taken over the support for children and young people's mental health across the county.
Dr Prag Moodley, a Stevenage-based GP and chair of the East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group, thinks too many children and young people are being wrongly referred for treatment from the most intensive mental health services.
He says their needs may be better served through offering more general advice and counselling in their communities, schools and GP practices.
Dr Moodley says GPs in Hertfordshire have too often referred children and young people to the county's most specialised mental health services, "because there was no other place to refer" - meaning those who require the specialised services are having to wait longer.
Dr Moodley made the comments at a meeting of the Hertfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board on Tuesday, January 28.
Members of the board heard that the the county's 'children and adolescent mental health services' (CAMHS) were under "enormous pressure" - and that there was "unprecedented demand for services".
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Nevertheless they were told that waiting lists for the specialist services - offered by Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - were improving.
In August 2019 there were 465 people waiting for assessment - with just 25.48 per cent of referrals assessed within 28 days.
But by December, figures show there were just 69 on the waiting list - with 94 per cent assessed within the 28 days.
According to a report to the board on the county's children and adolescent mental health services' (CAMHS), there are plans to simplify access through 'a single front door' - leading to more effective triage.
There are also plans to increase the range of provision available within the system - focusing on early support to prevent needs becoming greater.
Dr Moodley said there needed to be greater investment in "catching kids early" in order to prevent the need for more intensive services.
He further stressed the need for a coherent directory that children and young people can more easily be referred on to, as well as an increased commitment to mental health from schools.