In this week’s Prime Ministers Questions I questioned Theresa May over cuts to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
I raised the issue of long waiting times and the referral process children have to go through in order to receive treatment and questioned the Prime Minister on Government cuts, including a 5% reduction to Lewisham CAHMS, which will only make matters worse.
Theresa May responded saying “we're clear that we want to see parity of esteem between mental health and physical health in the National Health Service”.
Despite the Government signalling their wish to emphasise the importance of mental health, their current approach and proposals do not amount to meaningful long-term action.
40% of NHS trusts saw cuts to mental health budgets in 2015/16 and NHS underfunding has lead to money intended for mental health being used to plug funding gaps in the wider NHS. Furthermore, since 2010, there are 5,000 fewer mental health nurses in the NHS.
All of this has meant CAMHS are struggling to meet demand. Almost one in four children and young people referred for treatment are turned away and the referrals that are accepted can be subject to a postcode lottery of waiting times, which can be up to six months for a first appointment and up to eighteen months for the start of treatment.
If we want to truly tackle this issue we need to stay true to our words and fund it properly. See my question to the Prime Minister in the video below:
This is not the first-time I have raised cuts to CAMHS in Parliament. In February, I questioned the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, on referral & treatment times:
I also questioned the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, over the possibility of reversing the Government cuts:
At the beginning of March, I also questioned the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Steve Brine, over inadequacies in the Government’s Green Paper on ‘Transforming Children and Young People's Mental Health Provision’: