Two-thirds of GP referrals for child mental health lead to no treatment

An increasing number of vulnerable children are being refused vital mental health treatment that is recommended by their GP, finds a major Pulse investigation.

Figures obtained from 15 mental health trusts reveal that 60% of GP referrals to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) lead to no treatment and a third are not even assessed.

The situation for young people with mental health issues appears to be worsening, with the numbers of referrals that progress to treatment decreasing from 44% in 2013 to 39% in 2015.

GPs told Pulse that CAMHS were refusing to treat patients unless they had attempted suicide or self-harmed. Many cases are being sent to school counsellors or charity services, when GPs have requested specialist input.

The figures come despite Government promises to increase access to mental health services for children, with an increase in funding of £1.4bn and a call to all regions to produce plans on how they are going to work together to improve CAHMS services.

The freedom of information requests to mental health trusts found that in Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust the number of CAMHS referrals progressing to treatment was 20%, down from 46% in 2013. At Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust the proportion treated fell from 42% to 26%.

Full story in Pulse 4 July 2016