It is not just young children services which are declining. Adolescents with eating disorders are also suffering, and adolescent mental health is in crisis. Referrals are being screened and rejected, sometimes by doctors in referral centres, and sometimes by untrained administrators. What happens depends on your post code..
Caroline Wheeler reports in the Sunday Times 35th Feb 2016:NHS Improvement: service ‘unsafe’ for children amid lack of nurses
NHS services for children are substandard in every region of England owing to nurse shortages and safeguarding failures, the NHS regulator has revealed.
NHS Improvement says that “few” children’s services are “safe or well-led”. The regulator reviewed 96 hospital and other NHS services for children that had failed inspections by the Care Quality Commission last year.
It found that 54 children’s wards fell short of expected standards and, when reinspected, only two had improved and four had deteriorated further.
The report, which will be sent to all parts of the NHS with guidelines to help trusts improve, lists unfilled nursing posts as the top concern from the review of failed inspections. Low staff levels and high medical vacancy rates were cited as the most common reason for poor ratings in all four regions covered by the report, the Midlands and east, the north, the south and London.
The disclosure comes days after NHS Improvement’s quarterly performance report for the three months to December revealed 100,000 NHS jobs in England are unfilled — including 36,000 nurse vacancies.
Last night Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, demanded action from ministers, adding: “Not only is it a massive worry for parents everywhere that so many children’s units are dangerously understaffed, it’s totally unacceptable too.”
Fiona Smith, of the Royal College of Nursing, said the shortage of nurses applied “across acute, mental health and community services”.
Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, the association for NHS trusts, said children’s services had not been made a priority. “They are under-funded and fragmented. In this report although most services scored well for treating people with kindness and compassion, there were serious failings, which were clearly unacceptable.”
A spokeswoman for the health department welcomed the new framework but said more than 90% of children surveyed by the Care Quality Commission reported being well looked-after in hospital.
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