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Major improvements planned to mental health services for young people

​Children and young people experiencing mental health difficulties will benefit from better access to targeted help, at an earlier stage, thanks to a significant investment in Norfolk and Waveney services.

NHS England announced this week that Norfolk and Waveney will receive an additional £1.9m recurrent funding (every year) for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) – a portion of which will go to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Now NSFT will work in partnership with other health and children’s services providers to drive through a collective range of improvement measures to give young people greater access to help and support.

The improvements within NSFT’s own services will include:

• Improving access to the right mental health care at the right time by creating a single point of contact managed by partners. This will see referrals for all CAMHS mental health services come to one place, and the team will then coordinate an appropriate referral to the best service for that person’s needs. These services will include NSFT’s, as well as those provided by other organisations

• Making more help available for young people in crisis as referral rates continue to rise, with an increase of 57% in referrals from 2013/2014 to 2014/15. The teams’ crisis response hours will be extended into the evenings, while clinics will also take place on Saturday and Sunday mornings in Great Yarmouth, Norwich and King’s Lynn. This comes after a successful nine-month pilot in Great Yarmouth which gave young people in crisis the chance to access help at a weekend clinic. The number of young people who needed to stay in hospital over the weekend fell, with occupied bed nights reducing year on year, from 21 to 15 between April and June.

• Recruiting 11 wte additional specialist staff to expand the eating disorders service, (which currently has seven wte staff). This will help meet an increase in demand while ensuring children and young people can access help at an early stage, before their illness becomes more serious. The service has seen a 25% year-on-year increase in the number of referrals, but also the complexity of cases has increased, meaning more support for each person

• Additional support will also be available in schools

• Increasing the service available to children in care by recruiting more staff, meeting a rise in demand

• Recruiting additional staff to work in schools to promote the services which are available and the steps young people can take to safeguard their mental wellbeing. Staff will also work more closely with other services to share good practice and make sure young people can access joined-up care

The funding to pay for these initiatives and those with other providers was awarded to the Norfolk CAMHS Strategic Partnership, which consists of Norfolk County Council, Norfolk and Waveney CCGs, NSFT, other CAMHS mental health providers including the Ormiston Children’s & Families Trust, and patient groups.

The partnership worked together to submit a bid for funds with a clear Transformation Plan, outlining the priorities for improvements to local services, and the monies it would need to support these.

It comes as part of a national drive to improve young people’s services. NSFT has played a key role in the initiative throughout, with its consultant psychiatrist and Deputy Medical Director, Dr Jon Wilson, sitting on the government taskforce which focused on the way children’s services are delivered, and which recommended the extra money should be made available.

Andy Goff, CAMHS Improvement and Development Manager with NSFT, said: “The main thrust of the improvements, and the funds supporting them, are designed to help young people get rapid access to care and treatment, at an earlier stage.

“The single point of contact has to be one of the most significant initiatives to help us achieve this aim. We believe it will really help young people and families – and other health and children’s services colleagues working on their behalf – to negotiate the services and support available and get help much faster, be that with NSFT or with other agencies.

“By doing this - and by promoting awareness and prevention - we can all work together to prevent problems from becoming too great, and offer young people a much better chance of making a good recovery and living a full life.

“The additional funds we receive will also help us to manage the increasing demands upon some of these services, such as in our eating disorders and crisis services.”

Andy explained the fine detail of exactly how the £1.9 million will be allocated to CAMHS providers is currently being locally negotiated.

“But we are already planning the roll out of the improvements we intend to make to NSFT CAMHS services and we look forward to introducing our improved services in the very near future.”

For more information about mental health issues for young people and the support which is available locally, visit