Labour MP for Redcar, Anna Turley, has called on the government to protect mental health services for children and young people as staff at Redcar mental health charity face redundancy.
Services at children’s mental health charity, The Link in Redcar, are in high demand with a waiting list of 140 children. Despite long waiting times, staff have had their hours cut and some may now be made redundant due to funding pressures.
Speaking in the House of Commons during Health & Social Care Questions, Anna challenged ministers to commit to increasing funding for children and adolescent mental health services.
“An estimated one in ten children and young people in Redcar and Cleveland aged 5 - 16 years have a mental health disorder, higher then England and the rest of the North East.
“Local services are becoming overwhelmed. Redcar charity The Link which provides mental health support for children saw an increase in demand last year of 40%.
“Despite a waiting list of over 140 children and planned waits of 11 weeks the charity is facing making redundancies and staff have had their hours cut due to funding cuts.
“Will she commit to increasing and ringfencing spending for child and adolescent mental health to truly put it on a par with physical health and will she ensure the role of third sector charities in delivery is protected?”
In response, the minister for Mental Health and Inequalities, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, said the government are increasing funding for mental health and that it is down to local CCGs how they commission services. She also stated NHS England would be closely scrutinising mental health service commissioning.
Speaking afterwards, Anna said:
“There is a mental health crisis among our children with more and more young people needing the support of mental health services. It must be a priority to make sure immediate support is available for those who are struggling in their formative years.
“The Conservatives promised in their election manifesto to give mental health parity of esteem with physical health and the minister repeated their commitment to increase funding for mental health today. But the pressures on the Link demonstrate the promised investment is not reaching services on the ground. I will be keeping up the pressure on ministers and speaking to the local CCG.”
Tina Jackson, Managing Director of The Link, said:
“We have already had to make cuts to staff costs of 15% across the board to ease the financial situation. Obviously this has an impact on the numbers of children and young people we can see. We are now facing the possibility of redundancies which will have a massive impact not only for the local skilled staff who work with us but also children and young people with mental health problems across Redcar & Cleveland.”