The Royal College of Psychiatry’s child and adolescent psychiatry faculty is boldly commenting on the status quo with regard to the extent of provision of NHS mental health care for children, both inpatient and outpatient.
Faculty vice-chair, Dr Jon Goldin said eloquently, in a column published by The Independent on 10 November 2017, “As a child psychiatrist, I know that vulnerable children will continue to suffer until the NHS promises to ring-fence child mental health funding.”
Why are people talking about the need to ring-fence? Because funds promised for mental health care in recent years appear to have been swallowed by NHS organisational deficits, or for any variety of reasons, not to have found their way to the intended increase in mental health resources.
Independent providers of mental health care such as Ellern Mede offer services to people who pay privately and those that fall within the finite number of budgeted NHS-resourced pre-contracted inpatient or outpatient services. Occasionally, the NHS goes beyond budgeted resources with a ‘spot purchase’ from an independent provider.
Dr Goldin’s article explains: “If money that is promised is not ring-fenced we cannot ensure that funding will reach the frontline. Many CCGs nationally are struggling financially so that the increased money allocated for CAMHS often ends up getting spent on paying off other debts or propping up other services. The RCPsych has uncovered that 22 CCGs cut their overall mental health funding in real terms from 2015-16 to 2016-17. Twelve CCGs cut their mental health budgets in cash terms.”
Dr Goldin talks specifically about eating disorder services where £150m was ‘ring-fenced’. Ellern Mede is strongly in agreement with his view that “eating disorders is an area where intervening early is crucial to prevent problems becoming more intractable and chronic.”
“We need to be heeding the warnings that we are receiving daily now about the crisis in mental health. As a humane society, we have a duty to address this issue for the benefit of current and future generations.”