A revealing new report released on Friday, 19th July 2019, by Healthwatch in Greater Manchester, shows the findings of a project to find out the experiences of families using the Healthy Young Minds (children and adolescent mental health service). Combining surveys of parents and professionals as well as focus groups with parents and carers, the report highlights their experiences in Trafford, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham.
There were more than 300 responses to the surveys, 19 focus groups and one to one sessions which provided a significant amount of feedback to identify where the system was failing those who use it and what it is doing well. Positive comments were usually related to individual staff members or when treatment had been successful.
Key findings included:
- Overwhelming concern within the comments about access; the difficulty of getting a referral, the waiting times following referral, and thresholds being considered too high for acceptance.
- A combination of factors including difficulty in accessing services, very long waiting times, frustration with professionals, poor communication over extended periods, a lack of ongoing support, made some parents feel they had to turn to private consultation.
- When children were thought to be, or were on, the autism spectrum (ASD) this caused difficulties in getting the right diagnosis, treatment, and support.
- Both parents and professionals felt timescales for referral and acceptance were too long.
The project was carried out across the areas in Greater Manchester where the Healthy Young Minds service is provided by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. Data gathered by the local Healthwatch organisations, covering those areas, showed there was some regional variation between the boroughs.
In Bury, most parents spoken to in the focus group and one to one interviews that were carried out across the borough expressed similar concerns. One of them being that young children were not always given the opportunity to fully voice their feelings, unless it was expressed through their parents. Parents also felt that their experience of accessing the mental health services was better when schools and Healthy Young Minds worked closely together.
“We are very grateful for the assistance of professionals/organisations who worked with us to enable us to gather information, but we are especially grateful to the parents who often had to relive some very traumatic memories of what they had been through with their children. Without their honesty, this report would not have been possible”