Brighton and Hove children put at risk by experts, health watchdog warns

Posted On 09 Dec 2014 at 11:22 pm

Some troubled children in Brighton and Hove are being put in a vulnerable position by the very experts who are meant to help them, according to an independent watchdog.

Healthwatch Brighton and Hove has spent time gathering evidence from some of those youngsters, from parents and carers and from local charities about the situation.

It is not the first local organisation to flag up concerns about the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

A Brighton and Hove City Council scrutiny panel presented measured but critical findings earlier this year. Its report spoke of “harrowing stories” and “appalling experiences”.

The latest report said: “Over the past year Healthwatch Brighton and Hove has been hearing talk of dissatisfaction and frustration from parents, young people and voluntary and community sector organisations about the local CAMHS service which has led us to look into it in more detail.

“While a range of statutory organisations were aware that there were some concerns about CAMHS, there seemed to be a lack of an in-depth knowledge about specific issues and how they could be improved.

“For this reason, Healthwatch Brighton and Hove has gathered a range of recent research from public and third sector organisations and reviewed their themes to create a clear overview of issues and suggestions for improvements.

“Throughout we have also included the voices of young people and those who support them on a range of key subjects.”

Healthwatch said: “This report shows that the complexity of the service and lack of information is putting young people in a vulnerable position.

“Young people and their carers have said that they did not know what they could expect from CAMHS, what their rights were within the service or where they could go to for extra support in a crisis situation.

“In addition, due to the complex relationships between local CAMHS organisations, some people have experienced multiple diagnoses or not been informed about their diagnosis at all.

“The report also revealed that some GPs are confused about the referral pathways and where to send young people once they near the age of transition between services.

“This could result in some young people never reaching the services they need to contact.

“It was also felt that some GPs had little understanding of autism and mental health, which made referrals and diagnosis more challenging.

“Not only have young people found it difficult to engage with CAMHS, but parents have also often reported feeling blamed for their children’s behaviour and condition through general staff attitudes towards them or because they were asked to complete a parenting skills course.

“They were also labelled by CAMHS staff as being over-protective or attention-seeking.

“With local A&E waiting times under pressure and other resources such as the Sussex Mental Healthline orientated around adult mental health and signposting, some parents felt that they did not know where to turn when there was an emergency.”

Frances McCabe, who chairs Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, said: “Identifying and supporting troubled children is the top priority for families and society.

“That the services do not succeed for so many children and young people is not acceptable.

“Delays, drift and diagnostic problems in young lives lead not only to great distress for the child and their family, but can affect their whole life in the future.

“When CAMHS services succeeded, children’s lives were transformed.”

Healthwatch has shared its recommendations with the council and the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The CCG said that it was taking stock.

This comes against the backdrop of an inquiry by MPs into shortcomings in CAMHS across the country.

The CCG said: “Over the next three years we intend to work with key stakeholders to improve the model of care for children and young people.”

The GP-led health commissioners said that it would review feedback from young people and their families about the service, assess local needs and work out a better way of working.

In its report Healthwatch thanked three local organisations, Mind, Amaze and Mascot, who all raised issues. One test will be whether they are still raising the same sort of issues in the years ahead.

  1. Emma Reply

    I am a single mum and my boy is now 15 in 2009 we lost my eldest brother and 6 months later my baby brother aged 24 , we had no support or anyone to reach out to at all , my son changed over night unaware off how deep and traumatised he’s grieving was at this time my gp put in a refferall to camhs and 6 months they said he’s first app would be , in this time my son became suicidal, had nightmares , panic attacks day and night and rapidly went into deep depression and started self harming and told me he’s deepest sadest heartbreaking thoughts he just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up to be with he’s uncles to stop every feeling , emotion and thought and pain , so I had no choice but to contact the argus as for my sons safety I knew he needed help and support there and then otherwise he would have committed suicide himself , the argus got it bought forward and got to see will flewett the psychotherapist , and thank god I believe and know that man was and is one off the only properly trained and best experienced psychotherapist I could ever of wished for as he , himself actually knew , understood , even felt my sons pain ,loss ,feelings the voices, the demon as he had taught himself to become a pyscotherapist when he lost he’s brother and nobody in the system was there then either , you don’t just sit sn exam and read books and pass to be able to work in this area of trauma and grieve and suicide with adults let alone children , you need to really know feel it live it to even try to understand what your brain is doing to you and to try to help supporting by calmly understanding it’s not yours or your child’s fault , and not to let your child be punished by authority’s anymore then they have and be made to feel the odd naughty child because no teacher no social worker no doctor anybody should never be able to work with children with needs for support for mental and emotional difficulties through a trauma in there life . But will flewett was the best and my son trusted him and opened up to him because he didn’t fear him as he jus listened and wasn’t punished for he’s behaviour feelings emotions and thoughts like the schools teachers and other authority members do and have .my , son was permanently excluded from mainstream school put into pru n then bunch of authority’s ie educational pyscoligist , ect just judged us had no time , no patience , nothing in anyway what so ever to offer us , my son was failed by the system ! It breaks my heart and have sleepless nights over the heartbreak and trauma off my brothers deaths and watching my son suicidal feeling helpless and had no knowledge off any support out there ! Then I new still worse was to come … Ace !! That school with teachers treating children the way they do discusted me ! I am awaiting court for now home wood college , again not one member off staff there can even be on one child’s level , they are all judged the same , treated aggressively ( I’ve witnessed ) and end up failing education because the teachers do not help any child’s need , and every child has a different reason and need off support there but in the end become aggressive isolated depressed very violent and angry because they are punished not supported for the behaviour which in most cases would be behavioural difficulties as the child cannot express there real feelings and emotions and sadness . My son was at that school 6 months without them aware off he’s loss , anything what so ever , the main legal document from will flewett states my son had a mental breakdown , through the severe traumatic losses off he’s uncles and he suffers with emotional disregulation ! So he was mistreated , assaulted need up with a criminal record because the authority’s never had passed on he’s main legal document ! So why did they think he was there and how could you treat a child with such complex needs if they never had this document which also states to be passed onto every member who sees teaches or has contact with my son ! I had to photocopy the document and run it into the school ! It discusted me makes me sick how that can happen and again fail my son , mistreat him , and get away with this ! He’s now removed thank god and awaiting cory dates for them ! If the government spent more time and money on professionally trained in high areas like will flewett as teachers for children and schools with needs then 90 percent of the children would have an education , qualifications snd a life they deserve because they would have the support they need to get them through ! Please email for more details !

    • Healthwatch Brighton and Hove Reply

      Dear Emma,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We really sorry that you and your son have to go through all of this. This is exactly why we work on it right now. We will use your story to further influence the way how CAMHS service providers and commissioners work. We’ve already had some promising responses from them. Also, an improvement of the CAMHS services has just become the priority for the whole city. We will further monitor how our recommendations are followed and ways how the service is being improved. Pls stay in touch as we need people telling us them stories! For more information about Healthwatch pls see: http://www.healthwatchbrightonandhove.co.uk/

    • Simon Buckley Reply

      I agree Emma. After seeing several camhs clinicians who had no therapy training my daughter got to see Will Flewett. She had been going downhill with depression for ages and the medics wanted to put her on pills which she refused. Thank goodness she saw Will who really listened to her. She came back and said to me finally someone understands me. She is now back to the lovely daughter she I’ve always known. Camhs needs more proper psychotherapists like Will who are trained and have the experience that he has.

  2. Edna Reply

    I’d like to speak to somebody regarding my child and issues with authority’s we’ve had . You’d be very interested as it relates to your article !

  3. EducatedJustice Reply

    CAMHS need urgent training in recognising, diagnosing and supporting autistic children. Also the particular autism subtype pathological demand avoidance (PDA). The ignorance (and arrogance) of the senior staff there is appalling. Yes, they blame parents, seemingly frequently. A doctor’s oath is to first do no harm. The Government speaks of early intervention. How can that happen when CAMHS repeatedly fail to diagnose children with neurodevelopmental disorders and gossip and snipe about parents in the background, raising false child protection concerns? I don’t believe the culture will change unless the staff are replaced. As for the new CEO, completely uninterested in polite, genuine complaints about their failings. Very rude, ignoring them and using secretary to send replies which don’t answer highly relevant and valid points. Considering the terrible reports about the bullying and poor culture within SPFT and the concerning findings of the CQC inspection, it’s inevitable that these problems will feed into substandard patient care. But if the CEO can’t get it right, there is no hope.

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