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'Postcode lottery' on children's mental health revealed

March 18, 2022 11:04 PM

The Liberal Democrats have proposed a new law that would require the Government to publish an annual report on children's mental health, including figures on local spending per area after uncovering a staggering postcode lottery on children's mental health services.

The figures given to the Children's Commissioner show that just £15.70 is spent per child in Halton under the NHS's Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), compared to £165.20 per head in the Isle of Wight. In total, 16 areas spent £50 or less per child.

The Private Members' Bill is being introduced by Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP in Parliament on Friday. The Bill would require the Government to report strict figures on waiting times for assessment, treatment and referrals, as well as a breakdown of where NHS money is being spent on children's mental health.

Ms Wilson challenged the Government over the huge variation in money spent per child on mental health, condemning Ministers for "short-changing" parents trying to access mental health support for their children.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

"The legacy of this pandemic cannot be a severe mental health crisis that goes unchecked across vast swathes of this country. The Government must not allow this postcode lottery to continue.

"My Bill would ensure that parents can find out exactly how much is being spent on children's mental health in their area. Ministers will not be able to hide from their underfunding and short-changing of communities that need this vital support.

"No parent should be stuck in the awful position of being unable to access mental health services for their child. It's high time we lend them a helping hand."

ENDS

Note to Editors

  1. Figures from Children's Commissioner on £ Spent per Child and Waiting Times
  2. Table of children's mental health spending per CCG
  3. Munira Wilson's 'Mental Health Provision (Children and Young People)' Bill
  4. The Bill follows Ed Davey's keynote speech at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference on Sunday that called for:
  • Expansion of access to children's mental health services
  • New maximum waiting time standards
  • A dedicated, qualified mental health professional in every school