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NSPCC report claims over 100k abused or neglected children aren't having mental health needs met

Editorial Image Credit: Press Association

NHS bosses in our region have reacted to analysis from the NSPCC which claims mental health plans for children who've been abused are failing.

The NSPCC says more than 100,000 abused children in Yorkshire & Humber are being "let down" and the charity's findings show 64 per cent of NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups' local mental health plans "failed to properly plan for the needs of abused children."

The NSPCC says , compared to last year, approximately 41 per cent of CCGs nationally were rated red or amber again .

A "red" rating means they failed to recognise that children who have been abused are more vulnerable to mental health problems.

Four CCGs in our area were rated red:

  • Harrogate & Rural District
  • Leeds
  • Scarborough & Ryedale
  • Vale of York

The NSPCC is calling on all NHS CCGs to urgently recognise and plan for the increased mental health needs of children who have been abused.

Research shows that adults who have suffered abuse in childhood are twice as likely to develop clinical depression . Early support is key to minimising the long- term impact of mental health issues.

Craig Thorley NSPCC:

We recognise the hard work of NHS staff providing much-needed mental health services to young people.

These ratings are not a reflection on those services and the staff working to deliver them.

But our analysis shows that there are CCGs across the England that are still not properly planning for the mental health needs of abused children and young people. It is crucial these children are supported to get back on track and lead healthy lives.

– Almudena Lara, NSPCC's head of policy and public affairs

The Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group gave a strong reaction to the NSPCC analysis, saying it was "unjustifiable" and the charity's methodology was "flawed".

It is very disappointing to receive this rating from the NSPCC, which is completely unjustifiable.

In Leeds we have a Local Transformation Plan that has strategic and operational sign up across the partnership of health, social care and education. Our programme board is chaired by the executive lead elected member for children and families and we met last week to hear of all the innovative developments taking place in our services, in response to childhood trauma.

These include:

  1. Our award winning Infant Mental Health Service, which has been in the city six years now and delivers training, consultation and direct therapy in relation to attachment between caregivers and their infants. This includes working with parents and foster carers as well as delivering training to an extended workforce, including court personnel. Their direct work focuses on addressing some of the issues that surface in the mother’s own experience of trauma in their childhood, in order to support their ability to bond with their baby. The lead commissioner and head of this service presented to an All Parliamentary Group in recognition of the best practice. >
  2. Our Therapeutic Social Work Service are a highly skilled team of social workers in terms of intervention for children who have experienced abuse. They have embedded CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) psychologists and we have commissioned them to extend their offer to Leeds children in the care system placed outside of Leeds; to ensure they have oversight and intervention in terms of their mental health needs.

  3. A very new development where we are seconding a CAMHS practitioner with nationally recognised and published expertise in children who have experienced trauma, where this has impacted on their development, learning and emotional needs. This practitioner has been working with great impact with the Therapeutic Social Work Service and the new development is extending the learning across the city and with the new West Yorkshire response to the emotional needs of adopted children.

This just gives a small flavour of what we are doing in Leeds. The methodology is clearly flawed and appears to be based solely on a desk top search of the Local Transformation Plans without any other source of intelligence.

For example we consistently receive very positive feedback from NHS England Yorkshire and Humber assurance team in terms of the comprehensiveness of our plans and developments.

We invited NSPCC to visit us to hear more about our offer last year and they have as yet to take this offer up. We extend the invite again.

– Dr Jane Mischenko, Commissioning Lead for Children & Maternity Services

A joint statement from the three North Yorkshire CCGs rated red - Harrogate and Rural District CCG, Vale of York CCG, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG, and Scarborough and Ryedale CCG said:

The NSPCC report rightly points out that children who experience some form of abuse or neglect are at greater risk of developing mental health disorders.

The refreshed local transformation plans, which each CCG developed in response to the independent Mental Health Taskforce’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, sets out how CCGs, local authorities, health providers and voluntary groups will work to support good emotional and mental health for children and young people.

These plans demonstrate that the CCGs fully support early identification and assistance to children and young people who have suffered abuse, as well as offering them a single point of access to services.

The Vale of York CCG and the City of York Council work together to commission bespoke treatment packages for children who have suffered high levels of trauma including sexual abuse, where their needs cannot be met by universal services. In North Yorkshire some mental health services commissioned are specifically for children in care, with many of these children in care as a result of identified issues regarding abuse.

In York and North Yorkshire when a referral is made to the CAMHS provider’s single point of access team, they ask whether the child is subject to a child protection plan or a child in need plan. This information is then considered when the referral is triaged. It’s also important to recognise that many children and young people will access CAMHS with no known history of abuse or neglect, only for such experiences to become apparent throughout the course of their therapeutic interventions.

The four North Yorkshire CCGs have invested in additional local children’s mental health services in recent years. The Vale of York CCG, for example, has committed more than £1.2 million in additional investment for children and young people’s mental health services since 2016.

The CCGs are continuously working to improve the child and adolescent mental health services they commission and value feedback from NSPCC and other organisations. We will, of course, take this report into consideration when reviewing the effectiveness of these services, and the commissioning of new services in the future.

– Harrogate and Rural District CCG, Vale of York CCG, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG, and Scarborough and Ryedale CCG