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Community mental health services 'need to improve waiting times'

Specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) that provide care in the community ‘need to take action to improve waiting times’, according to the CQC.

In their report, Review of children and young people’s mental health services, the CQC state that their inspections commonly uncover community services with waiting times that need improvement, with most of the children and young people they spoke to also expressing concerns about waiting times.

The report claims that many specialist community CAMHS services have set their own waiting time targets, but that there is ‘significant variation’ in these targets.

It states: ‘For example, a child or young person who is deemed to have “non-urgent” mental health needs may be seen within 35 days or 18 weeks, depending on which service they are referred to. Although most of the services we looked at in our sample of 101 inspection reports were meeting their own targets, some had long average waiting times or breached their own targets.’

Overall, the report found that 59% of specialist community services were rated as good, with 9% as outstanding. But almost a third – 29% - require improvement.

Of the five CQC domains in which services are assessed – safe, effective, caring, responsive, and well-led – safety and responsiveness were the areas in which community services performed worst. ‘Requires improvement’ was given to 39% of services for both of these domains.

But they also acknowledged that some services had ‘low levels of staffing’ and ‘inadequate staff training’, with staff not being offered ‘appropriate support or regular supervision’.