Laura Farris, MP for Newbury, led a debate on children and young people’s mental health on Wednesday 9 February where she called for greater accountability and concerted efforts to reduce waiting times for children and young people to receive diagnoses from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in West Berkshire.
Speaking in the debate, Laura argued that children and young people in West Berkshire were facing unacceptable waiting delays to access CAMHS and receive diagnoses, particularly for autism or ADHD which often exceed 2 years. She said that these delays came at a catastrophic cost to children’s educational and social development and raised the cases of families who had written to her to share their own experiences.
Waiting times in West Berkshire are amongst some of the highest in the country and Laura is calling for Ministers to address the issue and ensure that young people in West Berkshire are able to access timely services. She called for greater accountability in CAMHS, which has received a recent investment of £1.6 million, to ensure that Government funds are met with formal targets and action to reduce waiting times.
The debate follows Laura’s question to the Leader of the House of Commons last week to demand Ministers be brought to the House to address this issue.
Laura Farris MP said:
“There is an overall lack of accountability and urgency in West Berkshire’s CAMHS services. This view has been expressed to me emphatically by parents, headteachers and GPs. The issue is not unique to West Berkshire but it is stark within it. I brought this debate to fight for the families I represent and all those families across the UK experiencing the same struggle. With prompt diagnosis and timely educational intervention young people's life chances can be transformed if they have Special Educational Needs. I am determined to see waiting times slashed and proper accountability brought to the service. I am grateful to the many MPs across five different political parties who spoke so powerfully in my debate and for the very personal testimonies that some of them gave.”
You can see the full debate here https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/ca2cfe96-d223-440f-8e9f-0d68d473418e