​Victims of Abuse Being Let Down by the NHS

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Child Drawing Pavement

Reports find lack of support and failings within NHS Mental Health Services

Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. As smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse can contribute to virtually all types of mental illness, leaving these children vulnerable to depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), studies suggest.

The Education Policy institute has confirmed that last year almost ¼ of children, including those who were the victims of abuse, were turned away from mental health services, often because their condition is not deemed serious enough to warrant treatment. It is estimated that 55,800 children were not accepted into treatment in 2017/18.

The Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) claims that the failings in treatment of children and young people with mental health problems is a ‘silent catastrophe’ in the NHS, due to underfunding and structural issues.

Their report details a worsening crisis, through a survey of staff working within the child and adolescent health services Camhs. The survey reports that trusts are hollowed out, specialist services are disappearing, senior clinical roles and disciplines are being dismantled, all due to underfunding and the redesign of services in recent years.

This results in rises of suicide, self-referral to A&E departments, and in-patient unit pressures. The survey of 416 frontline NHS psychotherapists describes the treatment as focused on symptoms rather than the person. ‘Children and young people are left to get worse before being seen- there is a mismatch between need and treatment offered.’

Mark Rowland, a director of Mental Health Foundation, stated mental health services have been chronically under-resourced for years:

“We must take prevention of mental ill-health seriously. Increasing access to parenting classes, peer mentors in schools, community volunteering, training teachers to understand mental health and reducing working hours are just some of the examples of interventions that are effective in prevention. Prevention is always better than cure; we need a nationwide commitment to finding and addressing the sources of mental health problems.”

Dr Marc Bush, Head of Policy at charity YoungMinds, commented: “Every day we get helpline calls from parents whose children have been waiting months for an appointment with Camhs, or who have been turned down because treatment thresholds are so high. The system is overstretched and disjointed, with a devastating impact on thousands of families across the country.”

A Guardian Investigation found 271 highly vulnerable patients died between 2012 and 2017, with 7065 failings by health bodies.

New research by the Royal College of psychiatrists has concluded that more than 1 in 20 people wait more than 1 year to get the right help through the NHS.

Why is mental health not prioritised?

For many decades mental health has been underfunded, with many not receiving treatment at all. In the past, mental health was stigmatised and marginalised, with treatments that separated mind and body. Today, awareness has lifted public opinion. Attitude towards mental health has started to shift and improve.

Currently, physical health is prioritised over mental health; however mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with one in four people being affected by mental health problems at one point during life

In 2014, the NHS launched a Five Year Forward View Plan, hoping to improve services by 2020-21. We will have to wait to see the results.

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How we can help

If you have been a victim of abuse you are able to claim for compensation to meet the cost of much needed psychiatric and/or psychological treatment on a private basis, thereby bypassing the NHS ‘silent catastrophe’, uncertainty and delay.

At Ison Harrison our expert lawyers work tirelessly to secure compensation to pay for support and treatment for our clients who are victims of abuse. Such early intervention can help to stop the spiral into deeper mental health problems then work towards improving our client’s mental health. Ultimately allowing our clients to properly deal with what they have endured thus improving their quality of life.

If you have been the victim of abuse and need sensitive and fully confidential advice on claiming compensation, telephone me or our personal injury team on 0113 284 5141 or alternatively email graham.roberts@isonharrison.co.uk

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