Camhs: NHS met target to end adult ward use for under-16s

The NHS hit a key target for child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) in England last year after figures showed no under-16s were held in adult psychiatric wards in the final three months of 2008.

This means trusts achieved the target, set in November 2006, to stop placing under-16s on adult wards by November 2008, and shows major progress from the first quarter of 2008, when there were 133 “bed days” involving under-16s.

This subsequently fell to 16 days in April to June 2008, then four days in the next quarter, before the target was met, according to figures published by the Department of Health in a parliamentary answer.

NHS head says some under-16s may be in adult wards

In January this year, NHS Confederation Mental Health Network director Steve Shrubb said it was possible some under-16s were still being admitted to adult wards in “extreme extenuating circumstances”.

But the DH said figures for the first three months of 2009 were still being compiled, although they should be available soon.

The number of days spent by 16- and 17-year-olds in adult wards during the final three months of 2008 fell to 2,918, down by more than a quarter on the figure for July to September.

Age-appropriate treatment

Last year, the government placed a duty on mental health trusts to ensure age-appropriate treatment for 16- and 17-year-olds on adult wards by April 2010.

Under-18s spent almost 41,000 days on Camhs wards in the final three months of 2008, compared with nearly 35,500 in the previous quarter.

A DH spokesperson said: “A lot of progress has been made in recent years in improving the psychological wellbeing of children and young people – this has been partly due to the considerable investment in mental health services.”

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