Stop the Leak

Stop the Leak

Research reveals that many of those in charge of CAMHS at a local level are spending funding on different services.

In 2015, the government pledged an extra £1.4 billion over 5 years to transform Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). However, following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, our analysis of information provided by 199 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) shows that many local bodies are not spending the money on children’s mental health services. The money is instead being spent on other priorities.

Our findings

Our findings from the FOI include:

  • Fewer than half of the CCGs who responded were able to provide full information about their CAMHS budgets. If CAMHS services are to improve, there needs to be far greater accountability about where money is being spent.
  • In the first year of extra funding (2015-16), only 36% of CCGs who responded increased their CAMHS spend to reflect their additional government funds.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of CCGs used some or all of the extra money to backfill cuts or to spend on other priorities.
  • In the second year of extra funding (2016-17), only half of CCGs (50%) who responded increased their CAMHS spend to reflect their additional government funds. The other half (50%) are using some or all of the extra money for other priorities.

Sarah Brennan OBE, Chief Executive at YoungMinds, says: 

"After years of cuts, the government’s recent investment in children’s mental health services was hugely welcome, and we should now be witnessing significant improvements across the country.

"But the reality is that the situation varies enormously from one area to the next. While some CCGs have made big increases in their spending, it’s deeply concerning that so many others are using some of the new money to backfill cuts or to spend on other priorities. It is also alarming that half of CCGs can’t provide full information about their CAMHS budgets. If they aren’t properly tracking how much money they are spending, it is impossible to say whether services are improving."

Jeremy Hunt has described CAMHS as the single weakest area of NHS provision, so it is vital that all the new money is spent where it was intended – on creating better services with a greater focus on early intervention.
Sarah Brennan OBE - Chief Executive, YoungMinds
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