The Wokingham Paper

Abused children in Thames Valley may soon be neglected by NHS changes, says NSPCC

More than 50,000 children in Thames Valley who were abused may soon be sidelined by the NHS, according to research published today by the children’s protection charity NSPCC.

The NHS intends to merge mental health planning decisions across the country from individual commissioning groups to new regional partnerships, meaning the health service could lose sight of the children’s needs. 

But, the charity found East Berkshire does recognise the requirements of vulnerable children while  West Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire need to incorporate the needs of vulnerable children into their services to a greater extent.

Using data from the latest annual mental health plans published by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, the NSPCC discovered three out of every four of the NHS mental health plans in the Thames Valley region did not address the needs of vulnerable children.

These children are more likely to suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder and so require additional help from the health service.

NSPCC Head of Policy Almudena Lara said: “Children who have lived through the trauma of abuse and neglect need all the support we can give them to help them recover.”

An estimated 51,499 children in Thames Valley who have been abused or neglected are living in an area with inadequate plans for their mental health needs. There are more than one million children in this condition across England.

The NSPCC would like NHS English to explain how it will prioritise the needs of vulnerable children, and is calling for more transparency over how decisions are made.

Ms Lara added: “We know there are fantastic mental health services supporting lots of these children up and down the country. 

“But it’s not enough, and a system that’s already struggling to properly plan for their mental health needs will render them all but invisible if action isn’t taken now by NHS England.

“Millions more children could be affected unless the NHS ensures that vulnerable young people are explicitly recognised in the new commissioning arrangements.”

The Wokingham Paper reported two weeks ago that Reading and West Berkshire would be extending the national pilot scheme of Mental Health Support Teams in Wokingham schools.

The scheme will be set up using the additional £360,000 Berkshire West was awarded by the government as part of its annual budget for the next three years, which is supposed to help an additional 800 children every year.

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