News that children's mental health services have been 'cut by £50m' has drawn immediate reaction from professional bodies and charities working with vulnerable children and young people.
Official figures revealed in a parliamentary answer this week showed that NHS spending on children's mental health services in England has fallen by more than 6 per cent - equivalent to nearly £50m - since 2010.
According to the published data, NHS spending on children's mental health services in 2009-10 was equivalent to £766m (at 2013-14 prices). However the latest figures available which were for 2012-13 showed that spending had fallen to the equivalent of £717m.
Commenting on the figures, Dr Peter Hindley, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Child and Adolescent Faculty, said: "The revelation that year on year funding of Child and Adolescent Mental Health services has fallen by £50m over the past five years confirms the evidence that the College submitted to the Health Select Committee Inquiry into CAMHS.
"It is essential to recognise that funding of CAMHS services by social care commissioners has also fallen and that CAMHS services have been hit by a double whammy."
Dr Hindley said that with rising numbers of young people presenting with self-harm and other parts of the children's mental health system coming under strain, there was an urgent need for significant re-investment in services which are "effectively being starved to death at a time when all the evidence suggests that children and young people's mental health is deteriorating".
Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: "These are deeply worrying figures. Children and young people's mental health services have been chronically underfunded for decades and the current cuts to their funding have just added to the crisis that many local services face."
The cuts were made public this week after Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham submitted a parliamentary question to Care Minister Norman Lamb who, the BBC reports, has previously described children's mental health services in England as "not fit for purpose".