Vulnerable young people facing wait of up to a year for specialist help, survey of doctors finds
The Observer, Sunday 15 May 2016
Family doctors have condemned NHS care for children with mental health problems as woefully inadequate and warned that vulnerable young people are coming to harm during waits of up to a year for specialist help.
GPs say that, although growing numbers of youngsters are struggling with crippling conditions such as anxiety and depression, many in need of urgent support are missing out because rationing of care means that they are not ill enough to qualify.
A survey of 300 GPs in England has raised particular concern about the availability of NHS help for children aged 11-18 who are self-harming. While 61% of GPs are seeing more such cases than five years ago, 83% describe services as either inadequate or totally inadequate.
Even more GPs – 86% – are worried that young people in distress are coming to harm while they wait for treatment, according to the survey conducted by stem4, a charity that helps such teenagers. “Young mental health problems are a timebomb waiting to explode,” one GP said.
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who was the mental health minister in the coalition government, said: “These findings paint a bleak picture and accord with what GPs have told me: that when they refer children with such problems for support, too often support isn’t there at all or they meet with high thresholds which mean that children are in effect told ‘get sicker before we will help you’. Rationing of care in such a vital area of care is scandalous.”
View the full survey findings and report: