Waiting times rise further for children's mental health services in Jersey

Children in Jersey are waiting longer to be seen by Jersey's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

The average wait for an assessment at CAMHS rose last year, to 30 days.  That is compared to 25 days in 2022.

The figures, from the service's annual report, also show the time patients were waiting ten weeks longer for a neurodevelopmental assessment to test for ADHD or autism.

In 2022, children would be seen within 28 weeks, whereas in 2023 this had risen to 38 weeks - or around nine months. 

The trend of rising referrals showed no signs of abating last year, with 1,351 children and young people coming through the service. This is around double the number seen in 2020.

READ MORE: Child Mental Health Services Branded 'Weak'

Improvements were made to the service however, with CAMHS increasing personnel to 71 staff, including seven psychologists and three assistant psychologists.

A new neurodevelopmental service was launched, delivering 426 diagnostic assessments of Autism and ADHD in 2023. Dual ADHD / Autism assessments were also offered for the first time.

Complaints to CAMHS were also down from the previous year, from 12 in 202, to nine in 2023. 

Plans are in place to improve the service in 2024.  It follows a redesign of the service in February 2022 when families were waiting 18 months of an autism assessment, and a year for ADHD.

Read: More Staff & Shorter Waits For CAMHS?

The 2023 report reveals the mental health service wants to change operating hours to 8am - 8pm, seven days a week. 

There is also a push to hire more healthcare assistants and reduce waiting times for assessments. #

Darren Bowring, Associate Director for Mental Health and Wellbeing at the service, told Channel 103 there have been improvements:

"It's a tricky time in Jersey to recruit, but we continued to grow our staff team. Up to now (we have) 71 staff which includes seven psychologists. This is a real strength which gives us much more capacity for therapy.

"What has been a challenge is the neurodevelopmental referrals. Last year, we received 489 referrals for ADHD, up from only receiving 51 referrals the year before. Similarly, we received 310 requests for autism assessments compared to 80 the year before. 

"So we've seen a real rise in identification of the features of neurodiversity, and that's put the service under real pressure. The service is not as good as we would like. We would like to do things quicker and we're working really hard to try to recruit more staff.

"We've just invested another £400,000 into our neurodevelopmental service to add to our capacity and we'll continue working hard to bring down waiting times for diagnostic assessment."

Commenting on the latest data for the service, Chidren and Families Minister Richard Vibert said he welcomed the efforts of the CAMHS service to continue to strive for improvement.

"It is vital that children, young people and their families receive prompt, robust, and impactful assessment and support when experiencing mental health need.”

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