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Children with autism and learning disabilities get mental health care closer to home

01 October 2020

Some of the most vulnerable children and young people in North West London, including those with autism and learning disabilities, will benefit from enhanced mental health care provided in partnership by West London NHS Trust, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust and the Priory Group.

The arrangement has been successfully operating under a pilot scheme since April 2017, but funding, resources and responsibilities have now been shifted from NHS England and NHS Improvement, to more localised structures within the North West London partnership.

The aim is to deliver care and treatment for children and young people with autism and learning disabilities closer to their home and reduce numbers of admissions to hospital wards.

The partnership has committed to a recurrent investment of £1.8m a year for community services to continue to build on the progress made to date. The pilot scheme achieved a number of outcomes:

  • Developing new pathways for more complex cases
  • Reducing hospital admissions (from 234 in 2016-17 to 135 in 2019-20)
  • Savings for services that focus on the most complex cases
  • Improved provision of care closer to home through reduced out of area placements
  • Improved clinical outcomes and reduced length of stay for children and young people

These improvements were a direct result of responding to feedback reflecting what the children and young people (and their families) who use the services wanted.

Key improvements and changes that have been implemented include:

  • Clear goals for admission and discharge
  • Increasing individualised patient care to avoid them seeing so many different specialists during their treatment
  • Clearer strategies for patients to return to the community after treatment
  • Increased communications between specialists, particularly NHS professionals and local authorities
  • The opening of new units such as Lavender Walk

The pilot saw particular success for the eating disorders service with the median length of stay reducing from:

  • 100 days in 2016-17
  • 86 days in 2017-18
  • 72 days in 2018-19

As well as the obvious benefit to patients, this resulted in significant financial savings which could then be invested in other parts of North West London’s CAMHS services.

Dr Johan Redelinghuys, Clinical Director for the CAMHS Provider Collaborative in North West London said:

“This new arrangement will further improve care for children and young people with autism and learning difficulties in North West London who have mental health concerns. We have responded to their feedback and looked at ways to make sure they receive the treatment they need as close to their homes as possible.

“The pilot showed what can be done and we look forward to making further progress on reducing length of stay in hospital wards, providing more treatment in service users’ local communities and making sure the NHS is accessible at times of crisis for our young people”.

 

Notes for journalists

Patient quotes:

  • ‘Becky visiting my home at time of crisis definitely helped me calm down.’ – Young person undergoing psychosis episode
  • ‘X is feeling a lot better and is much happier too. Thank you for all your support you are amazing! We will miss you. Stay safe and take care.’ – Parents of young person under Alliance
  • ‘I’ve had a couple of conversations with Amar and I met with him on Starlight Ward yesterday for an appointment with X.  I just wanted to say how impressed I was with his ability to develop a rapport with X, which is no easy thing!  It has been pleasure working alongside him.’ – Parent of young person under Alliance
  • ‘Ana knows that we really appreciated her care at the time. I will send her a card too.’ – Parent of young person under Adolescent Community Treatment Service
  • ‘Jamie was one of the nicest people I’ve worked with, very understanding.’ – Young person under the Adolescent Community Treatment Service.
  • “I have found the group sessions to be incredibly supportive, helpful and comforting.” – Parent under the Alliance team