Regional media reports are today highlighting a £500,000 drop in spending on mental health services for children and young people in Cumbria.
The North West Evening Mail is running a three-day special report on the growing crisis in Cumbria's CAMHS describing falling spending levels and increased waiting times for appointments which it claims could be putting young people's lives at risk.
A Freedom of Information request carried out by the newspaper revealed the total spent on providing expert help and support for under 18s for 2014/15 was £3.383million - a drop of more than £500,000 from £3.944 million spent during the previous year. It says the shortfall in spending comes amid rising demands on CAMH services and higher than average caseloads annually since 2012.
The article quotes Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the organisation which provides Barrow's Tier 3 CAMHS, which says the difficulties in providing a specialist service are not unique to the area and that a range of improvements are under way.
Dr Sara Munro, director of nursing and quality for CPFT, acknowledged the system was under strain, with referrals to specialist clinicians in Barrow increasing 100 per cent in the past five years while the recruitment of specialists remained a key issue.
Dr Munro said last year's spending represented the first drop since 2010 and was due in part to a specialist government grant coming to an end.
"Our children and young people deserve better support, " she said. "We have made the improvements we can with the resources we have and we will continue to address the challenges with partners at the highest level. But there needs to be urgent national recognition that more support is needed to meet the growing and changing emotional wellbeing needs of our children."
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