Some of Hampshire's most vulnerable children sent hundreds of miles for treatment (From Andover Advertiser)
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Some of Hampshire's most vulnerable children sent hundreds of miles for treatment
7:00pm Thursday 26th September 2013 in Winchester
HAMPSHIRE children are having to travel miles for mental health treatment, a council meeting heard.
Some children in private provision have been sent as far as Northampton while tier four youngsters, those deemed most at risk, have been sent to Swanick Lodge Secure Children's Home in Southampton.
It came from a progress report from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to the county council health scrutiny committee on Tuesday (Sept 24).
Steve Crocker, county deputy director of children and families, said: “We seek access for very, very complex children at high risk of suicide or harm to others but we are currently being told there are no beds available for these children by the local Wessex team.
“This is a national problem but it is acute and increasingly we are having to find inventive ways of trying to contain very depressed or damaged children which is a concern. For example last week I moved a young girl to Swanick Lodge and we have had to add extra staff because she is intent on killing herself.”
The trust took over provision of the £10m children and adolescent mental health service contract in 2011.
Ruth Hillman, deputy service director at the trust, added: “We have a couple of young people who have particular difficulty with extreme self-harming and the unit best adept at managing that is in Northampton.
“If we cannot use Leigh House in Winchester for eating disorders we will use a nationally recognised centre. We have access to a wide range of facilities and we do use Chalkhill in West Sussex, although we have not used it for some time as we have not needed to.”
She added the average number of children in private provision at one time was only five.
Councillors raised concerns over the sustainability of the service.
Cllr Frank Rutt said: “I'm quite concerned at this report. This is a very important service but it is often treated like Cinderella with a lack of resources. It's the development of our young people and if they are not treated with the right resources it will get more difficult down the line.”
Cllr Martin Lyon added: “We are seeing an increase in referrals and presumably that means an increase in care we provide. There needs to be forward thinking and we need to think whether we have the budget and structure required.”
Councillors agreed to take concerns to the NHS, particularly about the tier four children.
But the meeting heard more work was being done to catch autism in very young children to prevent it becoming a serious problem in later life.
Waiting times for assessment have fallen from around 26 weeks to six while treatment targets are also being met.
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