CAMHS are working in a ‘fog’ due to data drought, MPs warn

Health Committee report says poor data is a cause of the “deeply ingrained problems” in child and adolescent mental health services

Photot: Phany/Rex Features (posed by model)

Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are working in “fog” due to the lack of up-to-date and reliable data, a report by MPs have concluded.

The report by Parliament’s Health Select Committee found “serious and deeply ingrained problems” within CAMHS and highlighted the data shortage as a major cause.

In particular, the report noted how CAMHS still rely on 10-year-old data about the prevalence of mental health problems among under 18s.

The lack of data and information is leaving commissioners and providers of CAMHS operating in a fog, the report said.

“Not only is there a lack of data on children and young people’s mental health, but also a worrying lack of comprehensive and reliable information about CAMHS, including referrals, access and expenditure,” the report concluded.

“The committee is deeply concerned that the most recent Office for National Statistics data on children’s and young people’s mental health is now 10 years old, as up-to-date information is essential safe and effective planning.”

The MPs said the Department of Health and NHS England must make fixing the paucity of data a priority.

The report also raised concerns about how the needs of adopted or fostered children, asylum seekers and homeless young people are not being adequately addressed by CAMHS.

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