Claims by the Royal College of Psychiatrists that Tower Hamlets is one of the three worst places in the country for spending on youth mental health services have been rejected by local NHS providers.
Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has denied claims from the RCPsych that they are set to only spend £4.45 per head on youth mental health services over the 2016/17 financial year – making the borough one of the bottom three in the UK.
CCGs are groups responsible for buying and planning NHS services for local areas. In a report published last week based on information made available by NHS England, the RCPsych estimated the local CCG will be one of only ten English bodies to spend less than £10 per child.
However, Tower Hamlets CCG disputed the findings of the study, saying their spending on youth mental health is “nearly ten times the figure reported.”
A spokesperson from the body said: “Improving the mental health of children and young people in Tower Hamlets is an absolute priority for us.”
“In the last year we have invested funds to establish new services for eating disorders and conduct disorders in children and young people… We have also helped our local youth mental health services to reduce its waiting times for appointments to five weeks.”
According to the RCPsych, in England, “one in ten children aged 5-16 years has a diagnosable mental health disorder.”
In response to this mental health crisis, CCGs have been given £119 million of this year’s NHS funding between them to finance youth mental health services.
However, the RCPsych argue some of the CCGs’ allocation of this funding is not proportional to the scale of the crisis.
“It is a national scandal that opportunities to prevent mental illness from occurring in childhood are being missed because of unacceptably low investment.” – Professor Sir Simon Wesseely, RCPsych President
The President of the RCPsych, Professor Sir Simon Wessely said: “Our analysis shows that in many areas of the country, the proportion of money that NHS clinical commissioning groups are planning to spend on the mental health of our children and young people is negligible.”
“It is a national scandal that opportunities to prevent mental illness from occurring in childhood are being missed because of unacceptably low investment.”
According to RCPsych, there are “52 Clinical Commissioning Groups in England that are allocating less than 5% of their total mental health budget to services for children and young people.”
Tower Hamlets CCG say there may have been an error when entering the data into the NHS England dashboard and as such it is possible the data used by the RCPsych to calculate their spending was incorrect.
Contrary to the RCPsych report, the CCG say their funding is set to increase to over £3.6 million. This would place them amongst the top 50% of CCGs in the country in terms of total youth mental health spending.