The Scottish mental health watchdog issued a warning today over the continuing number of young people under 18 being referred to adult psychiatric wards.
In its latest annual report, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland found that 134 under-18s had been placed in adult wards in Scotland in 2007-08. Although this represents a 24% decrease over the previous year, the commission said it was essential that NHS boards fulfilled their legal duty to provide appropriate hospital services to young people.
The report also found that 21 young people on adult wards had received no specialist psychiatric assessment, with a similar number not getting their entitled education support.
Commission director Dr Donald Lyons warned of the long-term adverse consequences faced by young people placed on adult wards. He said: “Without specialist assessment and care plans that include social and educational support, the risk of long-term social exclusion increases, as does an individual’s risk of the experiencing further serious mental health problems in future.”
Children’s commissioner for Scotland Kathleen Marshall commented: “It’s vital that young people with mental welfare care needs can access treatment and services that are appropriate. This means reducing admissions to adult wards and providing more specialist support for those who are admitted to adult wards.”
Children’s commissioner for England
The report was published just days after the children’s commissioner for England, Al Aynsley-Green, said some English mental health services had a long way to go to meet the government’s target of ensuring that no child is inappropriately placed on an adult ward by 2010.
The Department of Health has said that it is on course to meet a target of ensuring that no one aged under 16 is placed on an adult ward from next month onwards.