A councillor has condemned the ‘postcode lottery’ on funding for children’s mental health after figures showed the spending disparity in different boroughs.
Figures released by the Children’s Commissioner, a non-departmental public body in England responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of children, shows £63.90 is spent on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) per child in Oldham.
This puts the borough in the bottom half for CAMHS spending and is more than £100 less than CAMHS spending per child in the Isle of Wight, which topped the list.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Louie Hamblett said: “Any parent wants to ensure that their children get the best treatment and a fair turn.
“That children in Oldham get so much less spent on their mental health than in some other parts of the country means that parents do not get that.”
Last week, the Lib Dems put forward a Private Members’ Bill to Parliament asking the Government to report strict figures on waiting times for assessment, treatment and referrals, as well as a breakdown of where money is being spent on children’s mental health.
CAMHS spending is managed by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) of each borough, while Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust delivers the services for Oldham.
The statistics from the Children’s Commissioner also showed NHS Oldham CCG spent one per cent of its budget on CAMHS and children in Oldham had to wait an average of 39 days for a second referral.
For context, NHS Norfolk and Waveney had the highest amount of their budget spent on CAMHS at two per cent and the average waiting time for a second referral throughout the country was 33 days.
Sarah Leah, associate director of operations for CAMHS at Pennine Care, said: “There has been a huge increase in demand for children and young people’s mental health services and more young people than ever require support.”
She also said they provide “specialist services, assessments and interventions for children experiencing moderate to severe mental health difficulties” and have a rapid response team that “provides intensive support to young people in urgent need for care or in crisis”.
NHS Oldham CCG was contacted for a comment.