NHS Kent and Medway, Kent County Council and Medway Council have commissioned Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to provide services using a ‘community model’ approach – meaning that children who suffer from mental and emotional health problems will be provided with earlier intervention and reduced waiting times for support, as well as benefiting from treatment provided closer to home.
Dr Jessica Crouch is a Kent GP with an interest in children’s mental health, and was part of a group of GPs who were involved in the design and evaluation of the new service. She said: “Mental health difficulties can cause considerable distress to children and young people. Untreated mental health problems affect the whole family. Adults often say that their own mental health issues began in childhood.
“By improving the services that are provided in the early stages, we hope to be able to prevent children from requiring more intensive treatment later. Delivering these services in community settings will mean less disruption and expense for families who are in need of help.”
Ian Darbyshire, Senior CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) commissioning manager for NHS Kent and Medway said: “following extensive consultation with patients and other stakeholders we took the decision to move to a community model of care for CAMHS.
“All existing NHS staff working in CAMHS will be transferred to the new organisation and clients who use the services will receive their care as usual.
“We hope that the community model of care will lead to improvements in our approach to treating mental health in children and young people, and that families will ultimately benefit from these changes.”
Gurmit Sandhu, Senior CAMHS commissioning manager for NHS Kent and Medway said: “Medway will continue to use current arrangements for the provision of targeted tier two mental health services and we are looking forward to enhanced collaborative working between services and across agencies with the Sussex Partnership.”
Jenny Whittle, KCC cabinet member with responsibility for children and families said: “it’s vital that we get these services right, as so many problems can be avoided later if we can give children the help they need at an early stage. By working closely with our NHS colleagues we are confident that we will deliver an improved system that will benefit families.”
The new services will be provided by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which already provides community mental health services in Sussex and Hampshire as well as inpatient mental health care in Sussex.
Lisa Rodrigues CBE, Chief Executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are delighted to be working with our colleagues in Kent and Medway to provide mental health services for children and young people.
"Our services are based on early contact with children, young people and their families, in close partnership with schools, social services and others to provide the right treatment and support to young people as quickly as possible. The new arrangements will reduce waiting times, as we have achieved in Sussex and Hampshire.”
12 July 2012