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Caring commissioners are leading change to services for children and young people with mental health issues – Dr Jacqueline Cornish

If you had any doubts about the degree to which CCGs care about commissioning child and adolescent mental health services, reading through the 94 applications for modest grants of up to £75k would put your mind at ease.

Just over a month ago NHS England advertised the opportunity to apply for small in-year grants to accelerate joint collaborative commissioning. CCGs were invited to lead bids working with partner agencies – schools, local authorities, or with other CCGs in clusters – to improve joined up commissioning, whether in just their own communities or stretching across wider areas.

The scheme is linked to the joint NHS England and Department of Health Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce that is working now to come up with solutions to the perennial ‘wicked problems’ that prevent us from achieving equality of provision between mental and physical health for our children and young people.

The role of commissioning and the risks of the current fragmentation between Health (CCGs and NHS England), Local Authorities and all 25,000 Schools Commissioners, each with their own budgets, were fully documented in the Health Select Committee report.

The YoungMind’s FOI into reductions or freezes in budgets in Local Authorities and CCGs are showing some compromise in the delivery of targeted and specialist services. But the difficulties that CAMHS is experiencing is being mitigated by creative commissioners who are using their local knowledge and skills to work with colleagues to provide services and, most importantly, involving young people and families to use the resources available to best advantage.

Have a look at the work done in Sheffield by commissioners working with Chilypep as an example of how young people can help improve the quality of provision and delivery.

In my time in the NHS I have worked with a wide range of commissioners. The best walk a continuous tightrope of challenge and support, helping me and my colleagues to deliver the best possible service but not afraid to challenge the status quo.

What characterised those I still remember with respect, was curiosity, a healthy regard for the evidence base, and an appreciation of the needs of their community. Being a commissioner is difficult and at times thankless – but the importance of their role in leading change and improvement is undeniable.

I think it is significant and important that for once a scheme to build capacity is offered to commissioners to give them time and space to come together, to think about what their community needs and to share the learning with us all. 


Image of Jackie CornishDr Jacqueline Cornish was appointed to the post of National Clinical Director Children, Young People and Transition to Adulthood in NHS England in April 2013.

She is passionate about continuously striving for improved healthcare outcomes in this young group, giving them and their families the best experience and delivering care safely to the highest possible standard.

She is a practicing clinician, having only recently stepped down as Director of Paediatric Stem Cell Transplant (SCT) at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

Dr Cornish specialises in the transplant of children with a high risk haematological malignancy, and the Unit has been pioneering in the development of the use of alternative donors, detection of molecular minimal residual leukaemia, and white cell chimerism techniques.

The Bristol SCT Unit is a world leader, and published clinical and research outcomes have set a gold standard in the transplant of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia which has not been surpassed.

Dr Cornish has over 20 years’ experience of Medical Management in the NHS, having been Head of Division of Women’s and Children’s Services at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust for 10 years before taking up the National post. She believes that the strong synergy between clinicians, dedicated managers and commissioners leads to the best result for patients and is a hallmark of high performing organisations and services.

With this clinical and managerial background, she intends to contribute towards making a real impact on the improvement of health and wellbeing outcomes in Children and Young People in England.

She believes strongly in Parity of Esteem, for CYP overall but importantly bringing mental health on a par with physical health. She hopes to secure robust Transition to adult services though multiagency partnership working for all young people with chronic and long term conditions, making their experience positive such they remain engaged with their services and are supported to take responsibility for their own health as they move into adulthood.

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One comment

  1. Julia Winstone says:

    Good to see positive changes in services for children and young people with mental health issues. Bringing mental health on a par with physical health should be an urgent priority.