Out-of-hours target skews resources in some areas

A target to set up out-of-hours child and adolescent mental health services nationally has led to resources being diverted from other parts of the service, according to a study.

Researchers found reluctance by staff to take on an out-of-hours role, exacerbated by a lack of data on the demand for the services and staff shortages

The target to provide on-call and 24-hour specialist Camhs cover in all parts of England by December 2006 was met in 97% of areas.

But the Department of Health-commissioned study by the Institute of Education’s Thomas Coram Research Unit, London, uncovered a range of problems.

It found that areas with smaller Camhs services had to set up from scratch arrangements for 24-hour cover, and commissioners and providers felt the target was unlikely to be cost-effective.

Some services had formed partnerships to meet gaps in services. The study found that partnerships between neighbouring Camhs had often foundered due to different service delivery arrangements.

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Mithran Samuel

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