National Quality Improvement Taskforce for children and young people’s mental health inpatient services

The NHS Long Term Plan set out an ambitious programme to transform mental health services, autism and learning disability; with a particular focus on boosting community services and reducing the over reliance on inpatient care.

In autumn 2019, a National Quality Improvement Taskforce was established to improve current specialist children and young people’s inpatient mental health, autism and learning disability services in England.

The Taskforce seeks to make a rapid set of improvements in care, with delivery of the programme by March 2022. The charter of the Taskforce further describes its aims, what it will look at, it’s working principles and how it relates to the wider context.

The Taskforce’s Independent Oversight Board is chaired by Anne Longfield OBE, the Children’s Commissioner for England. This will provide independent, expert advice and scrutiny on the work of the Taskforce.

The Delivery Group is chaired by John Lawlor OBE, the Chief Executive of NHS Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and senior responsible officer for the Taskforce. This Delivery Group, made up of leaders from across the NHS and other key partners, will implement the Taskforce objectives.

How stakeholders can work with the Taskforce

The Taskforce will work closely with children, young people, and their families, who must be at the centre of our work to drive rapid improvements in inpatient services.

Several national stakeholders and experts by experience are represented on the Independent Oversight Group and Delivery Group, and the Taskforce will draw on national and local organisations’ expertise and advice which will be essential to the Taskforce’s mission.

If you have any questions about the Taskforce please contact


Membership of the Independent Strategic Oversight Group

The current membership of the Independent Strategic Oversight Group is detailed below, but this may change as the Taskforce draws on different expertise at different stages of its work.

  • Chair: Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England
  • Sue Bailey, former President, Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Nicola Bartzis, expert by experience
  • Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health
  • Andy Dempsey, Director of Partnerships and Strategy, Gloucestershire County Council
  • Laura Bond/Kate Yeung, Assistant Director, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), Department of Education
  • Dr Judy Eaton, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director, Help for Psychology
  • Emily Frith, Head of Policy and Advocacy, Children’s Commissioner’s Office
  • Christine Lenehan, Director, Council for Disabled Children
  • Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive, National Autistic Society
  • Emma Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, Young Minds

Membership of the Taskforce Delivery Group

The current membership of the Taskforce Delivery Group is detailed below, but this may change as the Taskforce draws on different expertise at different stages of its work.

  • John Lawlor, CEO and Senior Responsible Officer, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
  • Teresa Fenech, National Taskforce Director of Nursing, NHS England and NHS Improvement
  • Professor Euan, Consultant Nurse and Visiting Professor, Hails Royal College of Nursing (RCN)
  • Ken Courtenay, Consultant Psychiatrist Intellectual Disability Chair, Faculty Psychiatry, Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCoPsych)
  • Jim Thomas, Head for Workforce Innovation, Skills for Care Programme,
  • Kevin Cleary, Deputy Chief Inspector Mental Health and Community Services Hospital Directorate, Care Quality Commission (CQC)
  • Anne Clarke, Regional Director (Consultancy and Research), Skills for Health
  • Tina Irani, Consultant Child and Adolescent Forensic Psychiatrist, NHS England and NHS Improvement
  • Dr John Devapriam,  Medical Director, Worcestershire Health and Care, NHS Trust
  • Luisa Stewart, Head of Mental Health (Children Young People and Perinatal), NHS England and NHS Improvement
  • Tony Romero, CEO, Cygnet
  • David Wilmott, Director of Nursing, Cygnet
  • Cathy Edwards, Clinical Programmes Director Specialised Commissioning, NHS England and NHS Improvement
  • Sue North, Head of Children and Young People, Learning Disability and Autism Team, NHS England and NHS Improvement
  • Dr James Cusack, Director of Science, Autistica
  • Sarah Nardone, Head of Service for Lincolnshire, Association of Directors of Childrens Services Ltd (ADCS)
  • Meredith Teasdale, Strategic Director, Together for Families (ADSC)
  • Moira Wilson, Care and Health Improvement Adviser, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)
  • Ben Higgins, Chief Executive, BILD
  • Jane Padmore, Executive Director of Quality and Safety (Chief Nurse), Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Wendy Minihinett, Expert by Experience
  • Isabelle Garnett, Expert by Experience
  • Jane Cannon, Expert by Experience
  • Julie Godfrey, Head of Programme Management Office (Taskforce), NHS England and NHS Improvement
  • Kate Bedford, Senior Project Manager (Taskforce), NHS England and NHS Improvement
  • Emma Reynolds, Communication Lead (Taskforce), NHS England and NHS Improvement

Parent Council Members

The Parent Council was established to ensure families can inform and contribute to the work of Taskforce.  The Council meets monthly and all the members have direct experience of caring for children and young people with learning disabilities who have experienced NHS mental health in patient services.

Jeremy Harris, Co-Chair: Jeremy is the father of an autistic daughter and is a passionate campaigner for improvements to autism and mental health services. He also works as an Expert by Experience in Care Treatment Reviews and on projects for the CQC, and on the Department of Health and Social Care’s Building the Right Support Delivery Board reviewing the provision of community support for autistic people.

Jemma Perkins: Jemma is the mother of a daughter with Anorexia Nervosa and OCD. She is passionate about using her experiences of in-patient care to improve these services for children and young people. She also has a role with the Royal College of Psychiatrists on an Expert Reference Group and is driven by a desire to help prevent mental health issues in children and young people from an early stage.

Kirsten Peebles: Kirsten is the parent of an autistic son and is Co-Chair of the NHS England Working Policy Group for Seclusion and Long-Term Segregation. She also works with the Care Quality Commission to improve regulation of closed cultures and restrictive practices, and works part time with the National Autistic Society in their new Inpatient Mental Health Casework Service supporting autistic people (and their families) who are detained or at risk of detention to hospital.

David Rackliff: David is the father of a daughter diagnosed with EUPD and Anorexia Nervosa. David is proud to have joined the parent council to work alongside other parents, using his experiences to help to improve the lives of others.

Emma-Jane Clark: Emma is mother to an autistic daughter and she wants to use her experiences to help improve the quality of care for others, both as a parent and as an autistic person herself.  Emma is extremely passionate about improving care and treatment of everyone that has a mental illness, autism, and learning disability.

Nina Ni: Nina is the mother of an autistic person. She is a campaigner for better care for autistic people and has met many parents in similar situations to herself. Nina wants to work together with NHS professionals to shape the policy for autistic peoples’ care in inpatient units in the future. She is also part of a Mencap group for family members being consulted around the care of vulnerable people.