Children’s mental health threatened by proposed NHS changes, NSPCC warns

An NSPCC report suggests the mental health needs of more than 62,000 children in our area are under

An NSPCC report suggests the mental health needs of more than 62,000 children in our area are under threat by an NHS restructural plan. Picture: Tom Hull - Credit: Archant

NSPCC research has suggested that the mental health of more than 62,000 children in our area who have been abused could be threatened by changes to NHS services.

The data, taken from annual mental health plans, states that 82 per cent of the UK's NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups - which are responsible for the planning of NHS services in that area - were not adequately preparing for the needs of vulnerable children.

In the East of England, three of our CCGs had the highest number of estimated cases of children who have been abused or neglected across the region.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG had the highest estimated total in the east, with 26,084 children understood to have been abused or neglected within that CCG's area.

Herts Valley CCG was the third highest, with 19,080 children, and East and North Herts CCG had an estimated 17,057 children, the fourth highest in the region.

All three CCGs have inadequate plans for vulnerable children's mental health needs, according to the NSPCC's research.

Local Transformation Plans were established by central government in 2015, with the government promising £1.4bn between 2016 and 2021 to improve children's mental health services.

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Under its 'Long Term Plan,' NHS England will replace Local Transformation Plans in 2021 with a new 'integrated care system', which promises to streamline CCGs that will enable them to better support its users.

As part of its report, the NSPCC warns that centralising commissioning decisions into regional NHS partnerships could jeopardise the mental health requirements of vulnerable children in localised areas.

Now, the NSPCC are calling for a commitment from NHS England to put the needs of vulnerable children at the heart of its Long Term Plan and for greater transparency over how mental health services commissioning decisions are being made.

The charity also says that research proves that children who have been abused or neglected are more likely to develop mental health problems such as PTSD, anxiety, depression or other disorders.

NSPCC's head of policy Almudena Lara said: "Children who have lived through the trauma of abuse and neglect need all the support we can give them.

"Millions more could be affected unless the NHS ensures that vulnerable young people are explicitly recognised in the new commissioning arrangements."