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WALSALL: Children’s mental health funding a “lottery”

WALSALL: Children’s mental health funding a “lottery”

Photo by George Makin, Local Democracy Reporter.

Funding to support the growing number of Walsall children needing mental health support has been branded a “lottery”.

Walsall Labour group leader Aftab Nawaz said he found the way Government money was allocated to the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to be “upsetting”.

The service was discussed at the authority’s children’s services overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday (October 12) where members were told Covid-19 had seen a rise in referrals as well as an increase in more complex cases.

Sarah Hogan, deputy divisional director of children, young people and families said they submitted bids for Department of Health funding which is allocated to authorities in ‘waves’.

But she said they are not always successful and sometimes were left waiting to find out if funding would be allocated or not.

Councillor Nawaz said: “Why wouldn’t we receive money for each wave? That would suggest we don’t have a problem sometimes but we miss out at others.

“If we stand up as a borough and say we need the support of CAMHS, what needs to be met to get that funding?”

“Our children’s mental health wellbeing is a lottery. One wave you can get the money but the next you can’t. No one is checking how many need that support.

“It seems really quite bizarre and concerning about the way the allocation is done. It is quite revealing and upsetting.”

Councillor Tim Wilson, portfolio holder for children’s services, added: “I’m not sure we have sufficient resources to support young people’s mental health which is a concern.”

Sarah Hogan said there had been an under-investment in CAMHS for the past two decades.

She said: “Funding is allocated from the Department of Health and Department of Education per region. So for the West Midlands there will be a sum of money.

“We then have to put in our expression of interest to NHS England. They then decide who gets allocated and how many localities they are allocated to.

“Every locality in the West Midlands will be asking for it but its almost like there is not enough money to go around.

“I know some localities who have never been successful. Sometimes you are so appreciative of the funding you do get and all you want to do is crack on and get the services up and running.

“The reality is we will apply for any funding coming and work with colleagues in public health and the local authority on any submissions we put together.

“We’re not always successful and sometimes we don’t hear back for months and months whether we have been successful or not.”

Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter

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