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Child health care experts in Wales sound warning about staff shortages

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: March 10, 2014

Mental health service for young people in Wales under-staffed, say health experts.

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CHILD health experts in Wales have warned that the service which treats children and young people with mental illness is, in some areas, seriously under-staffed.

One expert told BBC Wales said there were only half the required staff in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

The Welsh Government has rejected any suggestion that the service faced a crisis.

But it accepted that waiting lists were an issue and that it had flagged this for attention as part of its CAMHS action plan.

Dr Elspeth Webb, a reader in child health at Cardiff University said there were many good staff in CAMHS, but services across Wales were operating at between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of the recommended staff levels.

“You can imagine it’s very difficult if you are working in such an overwhelmed service to maintain quality of care,” she said.

Last December, a report by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and the Wales Audit Office found that safety concerns raised about the services in 2009 had not been addressed properly.

It said some children and young people were being inappropriately admitted to adult mental health wards. Health professionals were also failing to share information and act on their safeguarding duties.

The Welsh Government was the first in the UK to have a national CAMHS strategy in 2001.

Health minister Mark Drakeford announced an extra £250,000 a year for CAMHS last October.

“The minister has also been clear that savings made in reducing out-of-area placements should be reinvested into specialist mental health services for children and teenagers,” said the Welsh Government in a statement.

“The Mental Health (Wales) Measure, which came into force in 2012, allows many more patients to be seen in primary care, meaning CAMHS services can concentrate on treating the most complex cases. Three and a half million pounds was invested in this new service and more than 30,000 people have been assessed by December 2013.”

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