Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHs) Inpatient Services

Children and young people with mental health problems, their families and carers want timely access to evidence-based, high quality care, in the right setting. They have made it clear that more services should be provided in the community and that, where an inpatient stay is required, it should be as short as possible. They have also made clear that it is unacceptable for some young people to travel excessive distances, be placed inappropriately on paediatric acute or adult wards, or struggle to access inpatient care at all.

At NHS England we have listened to the views of families and professionals and are taking action to deliver on our commitment to improve outcomes for children and young people.

Integrated care systems (ICSs), together with their partners, are taking steps to improve community services, as set out in the Mental Health Implementation Plan including working towards 100% coverage of 24/7 crisis provision for children and young people by 2023/24.

We are supporting the whole system modernisation of children and young people’s mental health services (CYPMHS) detailed in the Mental Health Implementation Plan with a programme of support for ICSs and their partner agencies, including:

  • the development of effective evidence-based services that work with partners across the voluntary sector, education and social care
  • delivering improvements in our own direct commissioning of services in the secure system and inpatient beds.

Our goal is to minimise the number of children and young people requiring inpatient care, using these intensive resources more effectively to increase access to services in the community.

Following extensive engagement, NHS England identified a need to improve the national distribution of inpatient beds, address urgent gaps as well as a need to provide more effective integrated treatment pathways. Our regional specialised commissioning teams have been implementing the recommendations relating to inpatient care, delivering the Accelerated Bed Programme, which provides a national overview of planned changes to inpatient beds across the seven regions, aiming to improve patient outcomes and experience by:

  • eliminating inappropriate out of area placements;
  • improving local bed availability aligned with community services;
  • eliminating inappropriate under-18 placements in adult beds;
  • ensuring a sufficient national bed stock for surge management;
  • integrating and collaborating with local commissioners and providers;
  • developing service specifications that support these ambitions

Thirteen Community Forensic CAMH Services have also been commissioned to meet the needs of young people with high risk behaviours who are presenting with severe disorders of conduct and emotion, neurodevelopmental or serious mental health problems or where there are legitimate concerns about the existence of such disorders. The services cover all NHS England regions, ensuring equitable access to all who need these services.

NHS Taskforce for young people’s inpatient mental health, autism and learning disability care

In October 2019, NHS England announced that a new taskforce will be set up to improve specialist children and young people’s inpatient mental health, autism and learning disability services in England. Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England, will chair an independent oversight board to scrutinise and support the work of the taskforce. The board will track progress and propose rapid improvements in existing services, examine the best approach to complex issues such as inappropriate care, out of area placements, length of stays and oversee the development of alternatives to care, closer to home.

See how we’re improving services for children and young people

Watch this video to find out more about how we’re improving mental health services for children and young people: