Council meetings

Agenda item

CAMHS waiting times


4.1         Caroline Hirst – Joint Commissioner introduced the item. She was accompanied by Harold Bennison - Interim Service Director CAMHS at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Martin Wilkinson – Managing Director of NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and Dr Omer Moghraby – Clinical Lead and Consultant Psychiatrist at Lewisham CAMHS, SLaM.  


4.2         In response to questions from the Committee, the following was noted:

1.    Lewisham works together with other boroughs as part of a 6-borough transformation plan. Mr Bennison took up post in 2018 and has worked to ensure that all boroughs are using the same approach and definitions so that data could be accurately compared.

2.    The “52 week wait” referred to the time taken between referral and assessment. There could be a further wait between assessment and commencing treatment.

3.    In most cases, the person carrying out the assessment would also provide treatment, unless a particular specialism was required.

4.    Although there were considerably more children waiting 52 weeks to assessment in Lewisham than in comparator boroughs, the time from assessment to treatment in Lewisham had a tighter range than in these boroughs.

5.    Around 40% of cases waiting 52 weeks for assessment had resolved or moved away by the time assessment came around. It was thought that in some cases the condition may be self-limiting, the patient may have practiced self-help or sought help privately. In some cases, an untreated condition could get worse and the service had received calls to that effect.

6.    SLaM’s objective was that the number of patients waiting 52 weeks would be brought in line with other boroughs by 31 March 2019.

7.    The number of referrals waiting 52 weeks had risen to 138 because the number of cases reaching a 52 week wait was rising faster than assessments were happening.

8.    SLaM colleagues gave assurances that the focus on reducing the time between referrals and assessment would not grow the time between assessment and treatment.

9.                 Some Members expressed concerns about the high numbers of temporary staff (15.2 out of 64 roles). Mr Bennison explained that funding uncertainty had caused significant disruption, however recent collaboration between the commissioner and provider resulted in a different ‘feel’ and service was beginning to attract new recruits.


4.3         Councillor Holland presented the highlights of a review of mental health support for children and young people in Lewisham that she had prepared at the request of Councillor Barnham, Cabinet Member for School Improvement.


4.4         A discussion following during which the following was noted:

1.    Members asked for a report back on CAMHS waiting times in 3-6 months. Officers suggested that 6 months would allow a more accurate picture.

2.    Members recognised the links between mental health and the review into exclusions from school. The committee expressed its commitment to making mental health part of both the Exclusions and Early Help reviews.

3.    The Cabinet Member for School Improvement and Children’s Services formally thanked Councillor Holland for conducting the review. The committee heard that the review would inform the future development of services. The review would be considered by Mayor and Cabinet, and was also of relevance to the violence reduction agenda.

4.    The CCG requested that Cllr Holland present the findings of her report to them.

5.    Although transformation grants and pupil premium were time limited, there was nothing to suggest that pupil premium would stop soon. The CAMHS transformation fund had been retained in the budget allocation for next year.

6.    There would be a mental health strand in the Early Help review.

7.    Some Committee Members stressed the need for greater patient and user group involvement, including the views of young people.

8.    Mr Wilkinson invited members of the committee to visit CAMHS services.


4.5         It was RESOLVED that:

1.    the report be noted.

2.    An update on waiting times be provided in 6 months’ time.


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