‘Alarm call’ on mentally ill young

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Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A&E visits by children and young people with a mental health illness have almost doubled since 2010/11, official figures show.

And around two-thirds of the patients were unable to be admitted to a bed within the same hospital trust or receive a place with the same healthcare provider, the data for England adds.

A former coalition health minister warned the statistics were an “alarm call” which indicated more had to be done to identify children and young people who needed help before there was a crisis.

Labour has also recently raised concerns over a “national shortage” of in-patient beds for children and worries that some are being taken to police cells or sent hundreds of miles away from home for treatment.

Care minister Norman Lamb said there were 17,278 admissions at A&E involving patients aged 18 and under with a diagnosis of “psychiatric conditions” in 2013/14 – an 85.2% increase from 9,328 in 2010/11.

Of those young patients, 5,367 were admitted to a hospital bed within the same trust or provider in 2013/14 compared with 2,705 in 2010/11.

The data adds that the figures for 2011/12 were 11,614 A&E attendances and 3,289 admitted to a bed within the same trust or provider, and for 2012/13 there were 13,655 A&E attendances and 4,006 admitted to a bed within the same trust or provider.

Liberal Democrat former care minister Paul Burstow said: “These figures underline why the Government was right last autumn to find more children’s beds.

“But they also are an alarm call that more needs to be done to identify children and young people who need help before there is a crisis.”

Mr Lamb provided the data in reply to a written parliamentary question from shadow health minister Luciana Berger.

Speaking yesterday during a Commons debate on the mental health and well-being of Londoners, Ms Berger told MPs that at least one in 10 children was thought to have a “clinically significant” mental health illness.

She told the debate: “For people to be presenting at hospital, particularly to specialist mental health services, means their mental illness has usually become much more serious.

“Waiting until that point to address problems is not only worse but more expensive too, as it requires more specialist health care from other services.”

Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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