National service framework will set compulsory standards for agencies

The mental health module of the long-awaited children’s national
service framework will set down clear standards that agencies will
be forced to adhere to, it was claimed this week.

Brian McCloskey, a professor from the Centre for Child, Family and
Adolescent Mental Health, insisted that the NHS and its partners
would be required to embrace the standards once the NSF was
published next year.

“Those who manage the health service will have to pay attention and
focus on what they have to do to improve services,” he

He expected new money to accompany the NSF but speculated that this
would be likely to come “with strings attached”.

Speaking at Community Care’s Changing Minds conference this week,
McCloskey stressed that overall he was optimistic that improvements
in children’s and adolescents’ services would materialise.

“I share the feeling that things are coming together,” he said.
“There is a crisis and clear problems, but currently we have a
policy framework and political commitment that will support us in
what we want to do.”

Bob Jezzard, a senior policy adviser at the Department of Health,
told the conference that the subject of workforce, skills and
training issues stood out “more than anything else” from the
emerging findings gained during the development of the NSF.

“We can’t simply say we need more psychiatrists, psychologists and
family therapists as we’re never going to be able to deliver all
those professionals in the time we need,” he said. “We need to
think about how others’ skills can be used and how to develop and
train a child and adolescent mental health worker able to work
within primary care services.”

He added that clear guidance would shortly be issued setting out
how the £140m announced for CAMHS in October was to be

Peter Wilson, the director of young people’s mental health charity
Young Minds, added that more emphasis needed to be given to the
mental health of adolescents, who often fell through the gap
between children’s and adults’ services.

“We have children’s services and we have adults’ services but, for
the most part, adolescent services don’t exist. From an emotional
point of view these people are still in formation and growing up,
and need particular thinking about and attention,” he said.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the National Youth Agency, Tom
Wylie, criticised the government’s omission of a mental health
target in the Connexions programme for 13 to 19-year-olds.

“Is there a target about young people’s mental health in a system
that offers advice and guidance for young people? No, there is
not,” he said.

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