21 December 2016 

Adoption UK’s former chief executive Hugh Thornbery CBE has said he is “hugely disappointed” at new figures which show funding to improve struggling children’s mental health services is often not reaching the NHS frontline, despite soaring rates of self-harm among young people.

Half of England’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are using their share of the £1.4bn ministers allocated to improve NHS care of troubled young people for other purposes, it has emerged.

Freedom of information requests by the charity YoungMinds show that only 50% of CCGs, the GP-led bodies which decide how NHS budgets are spent locally, have increased their child and mental health services (CAMHS) budget this year, even though all of them received extra money specifically for that purpose.

Mr Thornbery said: “It’s completely unacceptable that half of England’s CCGs are using some, or all, of the funding which was specifically allocated to improve NHS care of troubled young people, for other purposes.

“The Coalition Government launched Future in Mind in March 2015, a plan to transform services around the country, after identifying an acute need for more investment and support for vulnerable groups, of which adopted children are one, to improve struggling children’s mental health services. Adoption UK was involved in this report and provided evidence - so to hear that only half of CCGs have increased their child and mental health services (CAMHS) budget this year by the full amount allocated for that purpose, is hugely disappointing. This means CAMHS is not having the pressure on them relieved by the funding, as was intended.

“All Looked After Children have suffered the loss of being separated from their birth parents. Many have also experienced neglect and/or abuse in those families. Vulnerable children, including those who are adopted, require specialist support for their mental health needs. More than two thirds of adopted children have experienced abuse and or neglect and remain traumatised as a result of their early experiences. To overcome these challenges many adopted children require expert tailored support. Adult psychiatric wards do not provide the nurturing environment adopted children need to mend and form stable lives.

“One in 10 young people have a mental health problem. That’s the equivalent of three in every classroom. This means there are around 720,000 children and young people aged between five and 16 experiencing a mental health problem in England.”