Mental Health Services Under-Resourced ? Yes ! Suicide Prevention Minister And Related Reports Covering The Meltdown

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Surge in children seeking mental health support from cash-strapped councils, figures show.

Figures show 54 per cent rise in the number of youngsters identified by councils as having mental health problems.



Soaring numbers of children seeking help for mental health issues have been blamed on savage cuts to local authority budgets.

Politicians and council leaders are calling on the government to inject funding into children’s services as an analysis of figures reveals the number of youngsters identified by councils as having mental health problems has surged by 54 per cent in four years.

The figure rose from 133,600 in 2014-15 to 205,720 in 2017-18, with more than 560 cases recorded every day last year on average.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which carried out the analysis, said children’s centres and family support services – “vital” for looking after children before problems become more serious – had lost 60p out of every £1 they had from central government over the past decade.

Some of these services have subsequently been stripped back or ended altogether, with about 1,000 Sure Start centres – which provide early years health and education services – having been forced to close down since 2010.

The LGA said there were currently 75,420 children in the care of councils and that there has been an 84 per cent increase of youngsters on child protection plans over the past decade, while nine in 10 councils are now forced to overspend their children’s social care budgets.

Public health services, which also support a child’s early development, have meanwhile seen cuts of £700m to their budgets over five years.

Barbara Keeley MP, shadow minister for mental health and social care, said the cuts to local council budgets had led to the loss of family support services. She described a “crisis in children’s mental health”, adding: “Without vital early intervention services, young people are needlessly ending up in crises.”

She said that, as well as investing more in mental health services for children and young people, the government must fund local councils “properly” to ensure they can provide family support services without which mental health problems escalate and become more serious.

Councillor Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “It is clear we are facing a children’s mental health crisis, and councils are struggling to provide the support young people so desperately need.”

She said funding pressures in children’s services and public health meant many councils were being forced to cut some of the “vital” early intervention services which can support children with low-level mental health issues and help them to avoid more serious problems in later life.

“It is absolutely vital that the government adequately funds these services in this year’s spending review, so we can tackle this urgent crisis and make sure children get the help they need. It is the least they deserve and the consequences of not tackling this crisis now can be devastating for young people and their families,” Ms Bramble added.

It comes after the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) warned that massive cuts to Sure Start centres – shown to prevent thousands of hospital admissions a year and save the NHS millions – in poorer areas had heaped pressure on children’s mental health services and were fuelling the UK’s child mental health crisis.

Responding to the new figures, Dr Jon Goldin, vice-chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the RCP, said: “Both child and adolescent mental health services and social services are under increasing pressure, with inadequate resources to meet the need.

“Investing in early intervention and prevention is key and children’s centres and family support services can help prevent problems further down the line. Sadly, the fact that so many such centres have had to close down due to inadequate funding, is contributing to increased pressures in the system and more children are suffering as a result.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our children’s mental health is a priority for this government which is why we are transforming services through the NHS Long Term Plan – backed by an extra £2.3bn a year – so that 345,000 more children and young people have access to specialist mental health care by 2023-24.

“Early intervention is vital and we’re going further, piloting a four-week waiting time standard for treatment, training a brand new dedicated mental health workforce for schools across the country, and teaching pupils what good mental and physical health looks like.”
" The system is broken " - emergency mental health 999 incidents double.

Urgent mental health-related incidents attended by police officers have almost doubled in four years as pressures on the 999 service grow.


Norfolk Police are now dealing with an extra 10,000 mental health incidents each year compared with 2014, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

And those which come through the emergency 999 number have now passed 6,000 every year.


Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has said they are seeing "more and more people in crisis", and that mental health is a "system-wide issue"..

Police officers have said it is one of the "big drains on resources" and suggested refusing to attend mental health calls could be the "only way" to prompt urgent action from health bosses.

Andy Symonds, chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation, said: "The system is broken".

"We are filling the gap in mental health services that do not really exist."

At the start of the year a Freedom of Information request revealed people in Norfolk had been detained in police stations for more than 40 hours awaiting assessment or transfer to hospital.

Mr Symonds said officers, who are not medically trained, will usually opt to detain someone under a section 136 place of safety order to avoid an incident occurring.

But it requires at least two police officers, and can make the person in crisis "feel they are under arrest".

"We can sit there for hours on end waiting for mental health services," he said. "It can be whole shifts sometimes for one incident.

"It is not fair for the person. It is a small area we take them to and we end up sitting on top of each other. They feel they are under arrest and like they are in a cell. It is not a good place to be.

"We get a very small amount of training but it is not enough for people experiencing a mental health episode."

A dedicated officer has now been assigned to Hellesdon Hospital to help deal with the increase in call-outs to the mental health facility.


But Mr Symonds said section 136 jobs have become a "huge drain on resources".

"All that time the officers are not out there dealing with burglaries or serious violence," he said. "They are in a hospital trying their best to look after someone going through a mental health episode.

"It is a real nightmare.

"We are the service of first resort and people think police will deal with it. It has become our job when you have got services who have retreated through austerity - the police end up dealing with it.

"As long as we keep doing it, the longer other public sectors will keep stepping back.

"Saying we won't do it any longer might be the only way they see we shouldn't be leaving people with police officers for hours on end until we make that assessment.

"But we will never say no."

Norfolk Police now has dedicated mental health nurses taking shifts in their control room to help provide information on a particular patient, avoiding the need to section them.


T/Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison said mental health-related incidents are "a significant and growing part of our day to day work".

"Norfolk Constabulary regularly assesses and reviews the impact that mental health demand has on our already stretched police resources," he said.

"We are continually working to gain a better understanding of the demand we face in this area. It must be remembered that the fundamental role of the police service is to keep members of the public safe and protect them from harm and this is our primary aim in any situation.

"Our officers strive every day to protect the vulnerable, often in difficult and complex situations on the frontline, working with our health partners to ensure people receive the treatment and support they need.

"As well as our triage service in the control room, we also have a mental health advice team based in our control room.

"These practitioners will assist with urgent calls when requested by officers or pre-arranged appointments as necessary and we also provide on-going officer training.

"We continue to work closely with our partners in the mental health community at a local, regional working group level and national level, in line with our mental health action plan.

"It is only through a collective effort will we make sure that those who need mental health support receive the very best service possible."

More people in crisis

A spokesperson for NSFT said: "Mental health is a system-wide issue and NSFT works closely with our partner organisations, including the police, ambulance service, GPs and social care to improve the quality of 24-hour care we all deliver to service users.

"As has been seen in other NHS trusts nationally, demand for mental health services has steadily increased over the past five years from people who are increasingly more unwell than before and we are seeing more and more people in crisis. This, in turn, puts more pressure on all of our services.

"We are working in partnership with our commissioners to collectively manage these issues and to ensure that people coming to the attention of the police receive an assessment of their mental health needs as soon as possible and are directed to appropriate services at the earliest opportunity.

"This includes mental health staff in Norfolk working in the police control room and attending appointments with officers when police identify someone who is a person of concern and may require mental health support."
Child mental health unit referrals " Up nearly 50%. "

Referrals to child mental health units from UK primary schools for pupils aged 11 and under have risen by nearly 50% in three years, the BBC has learned.


Replies to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from 46 health trusts indicate they rose from 21,125 to 31,531.

Seven trusts said they had rejected an individual pupil for treatment at least five times over the last four years.

The Department for Education says it is "determined to improve mental health support".

Pupils had also spent more than a year on a waiting list for mental health services at 12 different trusts.

"These figures are deeply worrying and build on evidence which shows emotional disorders in children have increased in recent years," said Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chairwoman of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

"Services for children have been historically underfunded meaning they are unable to meet increased demand," she added.

"The government's aim to provide mental health support in all schools within the next 10 years will be too little, too late for many children who need that help now."

" Acute crisis "

Head teachers have told the BBC that the number of serious mental health episodes is on the rise in their schools.

One pupil was rejected for treatment on nine occasions and another spent nearly three years on a waiting list.

"We're seeing an increase year on year - more and more children with a variety of problems and it just seems to be getting harder and harder to manage", said Dani Worthington, head teacher of Moorside Community Primary School in Halifax.

"We've seen children headbutting walls, punching walls, kicking walls, and this can sometimes happen on a daily basis for these children as they're going through some sort of crisis."

Sue Blair, head teacher at Pennine Way Primary School in Carlisle, said: "I think the crisis is really acute."

She added that she is seeing self-harm in seven and eight year-olds, and pupils struggling with online bullying and eating disorders before they reach secondary school.

BBC News also sent FoI requests to 500 primary schools in England about serious mental health episodes.

It found that 191 primary school pupils had self-harmed on school grounds in the last four years, according to responses received from 155 schools.

These responses, and an account from a further school, also revealed that four pupils have attempted to kill themselves on primary school grounds over the last four years.

What to do if you are worried about your child

Although children often feel low from time to time, if your child is feeling unhappy and low for a prolonged period of time, it is time to seek more professional help.

Any professional working with children and young people should know what to do - for instance a teacher, school counsellor or welfare worker.

If the problem is complex, they may suggest approaching a specialist.

GPs can refer young people to specialist child and mental health services, or parents to a parenting programme.

Head teachers say securing mental health support for pupils can be a real challenge.

Clem Coady, head teacher at Stoneraise School in Carlisle, says he knows of a pupil "experiencing extreme mental health distress" who has been waiting two years for an assessment.

"I find it really abhorrent, there's nothing that we can realistically do that is going to give the child the help that child needs."

In a statement, the Department for Education said: "We are determined to improve mental health support for children and we are transforming services through the NHS Long Term Plan - backed by an extra £2.3bn a year - so that 345,000 more children and young people have access to specialist mental health care by 2023-24."

It said its mental health support teams are "training a new dedicated mental health workforce for schools and colleges across the country".
NHS bill for private out-of-area mental health care rises to £100 million.

Labour calls for investment in public provision rather than lining companies’ pockets.


NHS spending on private firms nursing people with mental health problems outside their local authority area has risen by almost 30% in a year to £100m.

Adults in mental health crises were sent as far as 300 miles from home last year – a situation NHS chiefs have admitted reduces the chances of recovery because vulnerable people are separated from their loved ones.

Figures uncovered by Labour show private healthcare firms are being paid increasing amounts to look after such patients as the NHS struggles to cope.

In 2018/19, £99,683,000 was spent on out-of-area placements provided by private companies, up from £77,324,720 in 2017/18, government statistics show.

Payments included more than £31m to Cygnet Healthcare, which owned Whorlton Hall, a unit that was criticised after the BBC’s Panorama revealed in May that residents had been abused by staff.

Another provider, the Priory Group, received more than £45m. The firm was fined £300,000 over “gross failings” that contributed to the death of a 14-year-old in one of its psychiatric facilities in 2014.

Other private providers hosting out-of-area mental health placements include St Andrew’s Healthcare, Elysium Healthcare and the Huntercombe Group, which each received more than £4m.

In 2018/19 more than 1,300 of these placements were more than 200 miles from the patient’s home, effectively cutting off people from the vital support of their friends and family.

The health service has a programme to create more beds but the widespread practice of out-of-area placements has triggered calls for this to be speeded up.

There are doubts as to whether repeated ministerial pledges to end out-of-area care in mental health by 2020/21 will be honoured, given the service’s heavy reliance on the practice.

Barbara Keeley, the shadow minister for mental health, said: “It is outrageous that the NHS is paying private companies huge sums of money to deliver what is inappropriate and often inadequate care. Companies like Cygnet are still pocketing tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money despite being found to have abused patients.

“Rather than continuing to line the pockets of private companies and their shareholders, the government should be investing in high-quality public provision which enables people with mental health issues to receive the treatment they need near to home.”

The Guardian disclosed last month that the amount of the NHS budget spent on private healthcare firms had reached unprecedented levels. The Department of Health and Social Care handed a record total of £9.2bn last year to private providers such as Virgin Care and the Priory Group, its annual report showed.

This was an increase of 14% from the £8.1bn that went to profit-driven healthcare companies in 2014/15, and £410m more than the £8.77bn total in 2017/18.
West Lane Hospital patients " At high risk of avoidable harm. "

A mental health unit for young people where two patients died in two months has been rated inadequate.



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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found patients at West Lane hospital in Middlesbrough were not safe and at high risk of "avoidable harm".

Inspectors found not all staff had the skills or experience to do their job, and some wards had insufficient staff.

The Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust said it was taking "urgent action" to address the issues raised.

Admissions to the hospital were temporarily suspended following the death of 17-year-old Christie Harnett in June, and on 9 August Nadia Sharif, also 17, died.

Both their families have called for action to be taken to prevent further deaths.

In March it was revealed 13 members of staff were facing disciplinary proceedings over the alleged ill treatment of patients.

" Out-of-date medicines "

The CQC inspection, carried out over three days in June, uncovered a catalogue of failings, including " Substantial and frequent staff shortages " and that staff did not always " Adequately assess, monitor or manage risks to patients ".

Non-approved restraint techniques had been used, people were at risk because staff did not store medicines safely, and there were out-of-date medicines still in use.

In addition, staff did not feel supported or valued, with morale low, and some told inspectors not all incidents were reported.

The trust said there was a national shortage of the specialist staff to properly support the " Complex needs of young people in mental health inpatient wards ".

In July it had consolidated the number of wards from three to two, in a bid to address the staffing problem, allow more time for training, and improve safety, it said.

There was also "ongoing work to reduce the use of restrictive interventions".

Elizabeth Moody, the trust's deputy chief executive, added: " Our patients are always our priority... we are committed to making the improvements necessary.

" We will continue to work closely with the CQC, staff, and most importantly the young people in our care and their families, to ensure we provide better care at West Lane Hospital."
West Lane Hospital suspended staff " Still working. "

Thirteen staff suspended over the alleged ill-treatment of patients at a mental health unit are still working for the trust, the BBC has learned.


The workers at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough faced claims they used techniques for moving people that were "not in line with trust policy".

It has now emerged an inquiry has not led to any of them being dismissed.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust would not reveal where they now worked but said patient safety was a priority.

It also declined to reveal the outcome of the disciplinary processes for reasons of " Individual confidentiality ".

The news, uncovered through a BBC Freedom of Information request, has come in the week the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the facility as inadequate and said patients were at high risk of "avoidable harm".

" Insulting behaviour "

A spokeswoman for the trust described the suspension of the 13 staff members as " Not a decision that we took lightly ", but said " The care of young people must be our priority so we believe it was the right action to take ".

Responding to the BBC Tees FOI request, the trust said staff could "legitimately expect" the outcome of any internal disciplinary processes would remain confidential.

There were also varying reasons why staff might move to other areas of the trust and there could be a "potential impact on their professional standing... should others conclude, erroneously, that the reason for them doing so was due to the outcome of disciplinary processes".

It also revealed there had been an " Increase in insulting and aggressive behaviour, both in person and via social media, suffered by staff over recent months", so there could be a "risk to the safety of any individual staff if it became known that any disciplinary sanctions had been applied to them ".
West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough to be closed.

A mental health unit for vulnerable young people where two girls died in two months is to close, a watchdog has said.


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated Middlesbrough's West Lane Hospital as inadequate and said patients were at high risk of "avoidable harm".

It followed the deaths of 17-year-old Christie Harnett in June, and Nadia Sharif, also 17, who died on 9 August.

A CQC spokesperson said it had taken "urgent action" to close it.

They added: "Inspectors are currently working closely with the trust and NHS England who are arranging appropriate alternative care and support for the young people affected, in a safe and timely manner.

"CQC's priority is always the safety and wellbeing of people using services and has taken this action to ensure they are protected and kept safe from avoidable harm.

"The report from the most recent inspection in August will be published in due course. Any action taken by the CQC is open to appeal by the provider."

The CQC said the Holly Unit at West Park Hospital and Baysdale Unit at Roseberry Park, which are operated by the same trust and offer similar services, were "unaffected".

It added the closure notice followed "continued concerns identified at earlier inspections" of West Lane.

The CQC said 11 young people were in the unit when it was inspected on Wednesday. This is thought to be the first time the CQC has closed an NHS children's mental health hospital due to failures.

Concerns were first raised last November about West Lane Hospital's Westwood Centre, which offers secure adolescent inpatient accommodation.

They centred around claims staff used techniques for moving patients which were "not taught and not in line with trust policy".

Admissions to the hospital were temporarily suspended following Christie's death.

On Thursday, it was revealed 13 staff suspended over the alleged ill-treatment of patients were still working for the trust.

The two girls' families called for action to be taken to prevent further deaths.

Christie had been in care facilities for two years and had a number of mental health issues, including hearing voices, which led her to self-harm and make multiple attempts to take her own life.

" Illegally strip-searched "

She was found dead after telling staff at the hospital she wished to take a bath.

Following her death, her stepfather Michael Harnett alleged that during her time there workers restrained her without warning, illegally strip-searched her and allowed a male member of staff to be present while she was naked.

Mr Harnett added that in the months before her death, his daughter "should've been listened to" rather than repeatedly being discharged by different care facilities.

Nadia had autism and mental health issues and had been cared for for four years.

Her father Hakeel Sharif said following her death: "I think the care wasn't there, it should have been 24 hours the way she was doing."

Mr Sharif said improvements needed to be made "very quickly" and it was "not safe for the kids being there".

"They need to sort it out really fast, we don't want to lose any other lives," he added.

ees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust has been approached for comment.

Middlesbrough Labour MP Andy McDonald said it was a "catastrophic failure by the trust" and he was concerned where those who needed help would now go.

"But the decision has been made and presumably the CQC and the trust have decided that West Lane just cannot be made safe, so this is a huge issue, it is a systemic failure, and of course there's going to be a number of inquiries now," he said.

A Department of Health spokesperson said patient safety was "paramount" and all providers of NHS mental health services "must meet the same high quality and safety standards, with rigorous oversight by the Care Quality Commission."
Muckamore Abbey : CCTV reveals 1,500 crimes at hospital.

CCTV footage has revealed 1,500 crimes on one ward of Muckamore Abbey Hospital, the police officer leading the investigation has said.



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The incidents happened in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit over the course of six months in 2017-2018.

Police are currently investigating allegations around the physical and mental abuse of patients.

The hospital provides treatment for people with severe learning disabilities and mental health needs.

Twenty staff, mainly nurses, have been suspended at the hospital since 2017.

Allegations of ill treatment began to surface at Muckamore in November 2017 when it was revealed four staff members had been suspended.

In August 2018, BBC News NI reported there had been 53 assaults on patients by staff reported at the hospital - five of these incidents were investigated and substantiated.

In an interview with the Irish News, Det Ch Insp Jill Duffie described it as the "largest adult safeguarding case" of its kind undertaken by the PSNI.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme, Det Ch Insp Duffie said police were examining a series of "very traumatic events" seen in more than 300,000 hours of footage.

She said officers were going through the CCTV footage "minute by minute".

" Repeated pattern of abuse "

Det Ch Insp Duffie said the CCTV footage included the repeated physical abuse of patients.

"Over the period of six months we are looking at a pattern of very traumatic events.

"We have seen the repeated pattern of physical and mental abuse of the patients contained within that ward.

"These patients would not normally have been able to tell anyone what was happening to them. And that is why it is so crucial in this case that we have the CCTV evidence."

The PSNI has been in "regular contact" with the families affected.

"I do believe the families understand and they appreciate the size of the task at hand," she said.

Enforcement action

Earlier this month, Northern Ireland's health regulator took action against the Belfast Trust over care standards at the facility.

The formal action was taken by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

Three enforcement notices have been issued about staffing and nurse provision; adult safeguarding and patient finances.

The RQIA said it had been working with the trust since February, and it had escalated its response to enforcement action, as it felt it had no other choice.

The Belfast Trust acknowledged the improvement notices and said, alongside sister organisations across health and social care, it was trying to develop a model of care "which is receptive to the changing needs of patients".
One need that hasn't changed would be to stop the abuse! How's that for a model of care?
Abuse has always been , and will continue to be , with us for a long time.

This thread records a mere few instances ... how many there have been is unknown.

Suffice to say , the system itself needs policing and changes made to protect the innocent as best we can.

( I would include prisons and foster care under that general heading ... when one mentions Rotherham , end of the local bus
route from just outside my abode , what immediately springs to mind ? )