Real change is underway

NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Transition to Adulthood reveals the progress is being made on transforming their mental health services:

What a difference two months makes!

The last time I blogged I highlighted some of the most exciting opportunities and, also, the challenges facing Children and Young People’s Mental Health. I’d like to take a moment to update you on the progress of what is shaping up to be a countrywide transformation programme.

Last time I spoke of the injection of funding from the Spring budget to ensure that by 2020, 70,000 more children and young people every year will have access to high quality mental health care when they need it.

It is vital that capacity and capability are extended to ensure our young people are getting the help they need, and that we ensure services are established in a way that is sustainable.

Every CCG submitted a Local Transformation Plan for CYP Mental Health and Wellbeing by mid-October – it’s a landmark first step to implementing real change locally. I know a great deal of hard work has gone into transformation plans across the country, and really appreciate the level of partnership not just between agencies but also with children, young people and parents in developing them.

I also want to acknowledge the sterling work delivered by our Strategic Clinical Networks to support local areas while they were developing their plans. Now our colleagues in commissioning operations are working to assure these plans and issue funding. As outlined in Future in Mind, these plans will be published so we can be truly transparent, and accountable.

We’ve all seen the distressing media stories over recent months about children and young people being unable to access the right help when they are at their most in need, with some even ending up in police cells. We know we need to improve access to urgent and emergency care for children and young people – wherever they are, whatever time they need us.  

NHS England is working with the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health to convene an Expert Reference Group, supported by NHS Benchmarking, to develop an access and waiting time standard to help us achieve better access to mental health crisis care

I was delighted recently to share a stage with the Chair of the Youth Select Committee and the Chatterbox group from Dorset when Jon Rouse, Director General at Department of Health, and I did a double act at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth.

Our session on making a difference to children and young people also included a community engagement lead from the local Dorset Healthwatch and a Director of Commissioning from Derby County Council. At this session, we launched the children and young people’s mental health services passport, developed by some brilliant young people and parents or carers with NHS England as part of the CYP IAPT programme.

Young people came up with the idea of a passport to help young people to own and communicate their story when moving between different services. Let’s hope it makes a difference, particularly to stop the current situation where young people are asked to constantly repeat their story.

As you can see, it’s a busy time for us here at NHS England and our work with our partners, providers and commissioners as we strive to improve how we meet the needs of children, young people.

I will keep you posted on how this exciting programme progresses, but as you can sense I am really encouraged by the enthusiasm with which so many of our partners have acknowledged the need for change and embraced the principles of improvement though translation into actions via their Transformation Plans and anchoring these in local delivery.


Jacqueline Cornish

Dr Jacqueline Cornish was the National Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Transition to Adulthood in NHS England from 2013 to 2019.

As a clinician she specialised in pioneering treatments for childhood cancer and leukaemia, and brought to NHS England 20 years’ leadership experience in the NHS, having been Head of Division of Women’s and Children’s Services at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, and a former Director of Paediatric Stem Cell Transplant (SCT) at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

The post of National Clinical Director for Children and Young People is now held by Professor Simon Kenny, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool and National Clinical Lead for Paediatric Surgery for the Getting It Right First Time programme.

One comment

  1. keef feeley says:

    2011-National Prevention Strategy-America’s Plan For Better Health and Wellness
    Page 47 – “Enhancing problem-solving and coping skills and improving relationships supports mental and emotional well-being. Social developmental strategies (e.g., enhancing social and life skills, positive peer-bonding) can enhance self-esteem, help people handle difficult social situations, and empower people to seek help when needed.”

    Our mental health could be measured by asking ‘how well do we –
    Learn and cope with new things? (Effective Learning)
    Concentrate and communicate? (Communication)
    Understand and solve problems? (Cognition)
    Know ourself and what to improve? (Self-awareness)
    Manage our feelings and behaviour? (Self-management)
    Cope with difficulties and setbacks? (Motivation)
    Show respect and empathise with others? (Empathy)
    Relate and cooperate with others? (Relationship/Social)
    We can see if an individual has developed the 8 skills well they will probably have good mental health, consequently if developing the 8 skills became a priority for a society and assessed regularly, then the outcome will be better health.
    21st CENTURY SCHOOLS – all the evidence shows good development in THE 8 SKILLS (names will vary) greatly improves MENTAL HEALTH then developing & measuring these 8 skills should become central to society and education.