A Warwickshire health chief has admitted that mental health services for children and young people are often struggling to deal with the demand.
Only half of young people in Rugby borough referred to the service are being seen on time it has emerged, and the figure is worse in other parts of the county.
Jed Francique, associate director of operations (mental health) at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust (CWPT), said a smarter approach would be needed to tackle the rising demand including more work with schools and colleges.
Mr Francique had been invited to the last Wednesday’s meeting of Warwickshire County Council’s adult social care and health and children and young people joint overview scrutiny committee to give an update on the Rise Service – the emotional well-being and mental health contract delivered in partnership with Coventry & Warwickshire Mind.
Having informed councillors about a number of community partnerships forged around the county and the success of online help, he admitted that
while waiting times for initial appointments were ahead of target, some children went nearly 12 months without a follow-up meeting. The target is just 12 weeks.
Mr Francique explained: “In Rugby, 51 per cent of people are waiting 12 weeks or less for their follow-up appointment. For north Warwickshire it was 48 per cent and in south Warwickshire 43 per cent.”
This prompted a question from Cllr Kate Rolfe (Lib Dem Stratford South) who asked how those waiting times were going to be reduced.
Mr Francique added: “In the initial analysis that we’ve done in working with commissioners
in terms of the follow-up appointments, demand through the door from children and young people exceeds the capacity of CWPT by around 20 per cent.
“Needs are continuing to rise and our capacity is static.
“We have a detailed action plan to look at all the actions that can be taken in mitigating the risk of increasing waiting times because of this capacity and demand gap.
“I’ve got to say, because I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t, but if there’s a demand/capacity gap of 20 per cent then we can work smarter and look at the different ways of doing things but that is not going to be an easy gap to bridge.”
He went on to explain how certain key initiatives could help tackle the problem.
“Some of it is about how we can stop the demand coming through in the first place – that’s a big chunk of the solution.
“The other thing is to make sure we are working as smartly as we can where there are specialist needs and an example of that is where we have procured an organisation called Healios who provide online support and it has been very, very well received for children and young people who have relatively routine anxiety difficulties.”
Mr Francique also explained that a new Trailblazer project would be tested in south Warwickshire schools and colleges and would be a partnership between teachers and the NHS.