Mental health services 'inadequate' for 1.2 million abused children says NSPCC
Around 1.2 million children who have suffered abuse are being let down by mental health services, according to a new report.
The study from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) says that 83% of local plans in England are inadequate, with one in five failing to give any detail whatsoever on how they will care for children who have been abused or neglected.
The charity estimates at least 1.2 million youngsters, who have suffered some form of abuse, live in areas with inadequate mental health plans, following its analysis of plans from NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
This is despite research suggesting that children who have suffered abuse are twice as likely to develop clinical depression.
NSPCC Trustee and clinical psychologist, Professor Tanya Byron, said: "Failing to plan is planning to fail, and alarmingly most CCGs are setting themselves up to fail children who have already been through abuse and trauma.
"It is unacceptable that despite the huge number of children estimated to have been abused, and the known link between abuse and mental health problems, the vast majority of our health services do not have a proper strategy for how to take care of these children.
"CCGs need to urgently review and improve their plans so that they are fully prepared to help children when they need it most.
"And Government needs to hold CCGs to account to publish high-quality plans in a timely fashion every year."
The NSPCC gave each CCG's plan a rating according to a traffic light system.
Almost two-thirds (62%) were given an amber rating, meaning plans made some reference to the needs of abused children but were still inadequately planning for their care.
Some 21% made no reference to abused children and received a red rating, while 17% were good and received a green rating.
An NHS England spokesman said: "This report is wrong to jump to the conclusion that just because something hasn't been written down in someone's local plan that the NHS won't be caring for vulnerable children.
"These local plans set out some priorities that local areas have agreed but are not an exhaustive list of services available and it would be wrong to assume that those which don't mention services for people who have been abused are not meeting the needs of these children.
"Future in Mind is clear those who have been sexually abused and/or exploited should receive a comprehensive assessment and referral to the services that they need, including specialist services, but transformation won't happen overnight.
"We are currently undergoing a significant expansion in mental health services so that by 2020/21 an additional 70,000 children and young people will have received evidence-based treatment.