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Mind reveals thousands of mental health appointments for children cancelled by the NHS in England

Monday, 11 November 2019 Mind

The next UK Government must tackle the massive strain NHS services are under, as thousands of mental health appointments for young people are cancelled, says mental health charity Mind.

The charity has uncovered data that shows that in the past year the NHS in England has cancelled 175,000 appointments in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – an overall increase of 25% compared to the previous year.

The numbers suggest that although services are seeing more young people than ever, the rising number coming forward to seek mental health support means the system is struggling to handle the level of demand - with cancellations by the provider making up nearly one in five of all missed appointments. 

CAMHS appointments can cover a range of issues for people aged under 18, including:
• Eating disorders
• Self-harm
• Suicidal thoughts
• Anxiety
• Depression

According to the NHS, the same period saw a 10% increase in the number of CAMHS appointments to 429,000. However almost 1 in 10 of these additional appointments were cancelled by the service. See the data graphs.

The figures come after Mind recently showed three in five young people have experienced a mental health problem or are close to someone who has, from research with 12,000 school pupils. And only three in 10 young people with a mental health problem were able to access specialist mental health services last year.

Responding to the data, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said:

“We know services are struggling to cope with the increasing numbers of people needing help but no young person should face being stood up by the NHS.

“Despite mental health problems increasing among children and young people, many are simply not able to access support. Too often young people only get help once they reach crisis point. Half of all mental health problems have been established by the age of 14 but if we can enable our young people to seek and receive support as early as possible, we could drastically improve the situation.

“The NHS in England has promised £2.3bn a year for mental health, in part to improve children and young people’s mental health services. But political inertia means this plan is at risk with a lack of investment in the NHS workforce and buildings.

“With so many young people affected, this is rapidly becoming one of the major challenges our society faces. The next UK government must ensure that the progress made over the last few years is not lost in order to ensure that all young people get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

Notes to editors
The full dataset can be found here
• The number of appointments cancelled by the NHS provider between Aug 18-July 19 was 175,094. This is an increase of 34,767 cancellations (24.8%) on the previous 12 months.
• In the same period an extra 428,623 appointments were made – an increase of 10% compared to the same time period the previous year. The provider cancelled 8.1% of these additional appointments.
• In this period cancellations by the provider made up 18% of all missed appointments, compared to 15% in the same timeframe the previous year.
• These figures are taken from data from NHS Digital (Mental Health Services Data Set) for the periods covering Aug 17-July 18 & Aug 18-July 19, in relation to missed contacts, 0-18 by reason and attended contacts


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