Agenda item




This paper aims to provide the Oxfordshire Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee with a progress report on implementing Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) in Oxfordshire schools. It will also explain how the new MHSTs fit within the overall Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provided by Oxford health NHS Foundation Trust.


The paper also updates on progress with the Oxfordshire four week wait pilot, funded by NHS England.


Helen Evans described her son’s story in order to put a face on the report.  He was one year waiting for an assessment and was eventually diagnosed with autism.  An urgent referral in April which should have taken 7 days, actually took 3 months.  Staff are overloaded, often have not had time to read notes and the information can be wrong.


Every day her son hits and hurts those around him.  He doesn’t want to hurt them. He desperately wants help. Six months after the urgent referral he has only just been observed at school.  Hundreds of other children and their families are going through the same ordeal.  They are being failed by CAMHS.


The following officers addressed points raised by the public speaker and Members of the Committee:


Sarah Breton, Head of Children’s Commissioning

Debbie Richards, Managing Director, Oxford Health

Dr Andrew Valentine, Deputy Locality Clinical Director, OCCG


Officers acknowledged that the case was very difficult to hear and highlighted the challenges the service is facing.  Recruitment is a national issue, it’s not just a problem about money.  They are further developing recruitment options from the third sector.  The service is in the middle of a transformation to a multi-agency approach to include colleagues in education.


Councillor John Howson noted that an Educational Scrutiny Committee Working Group had looked at school attendance problems and concluded that the most common reasons were illness and medical appointments.  A lot of it was related to mental health, compounded by the problems with CAMHS waiting.  He asked if the £5.4m government grant will help reduce waiting time.


Sarah Breton stated that the extra funding will provide four pilot Mental Health Support Teams, two in Oxford City and one each for Banbury and Bicester.  There will be 8 persons per team covering 8,000 students.  Each school will appoint an MH lead.


OCCG has been selected for a pilot to reduce waiting times for CAMHS.  The pilots will be monitored quarterly and will be part of the national evaluation.  The teams will be able to see more students but also in a more timely way.


City Councillor Nadine Bely-Summers asked if online support from a private provider is an appropriate service for autism.  Officers responded that it works across the UK and is well evaluated and evidence-based.  It is not the only option available but users have found it helpful and it is available outside normal work hours.  Those waiting longest are prioritised.  There is strong clinical governance in place.  Feedback indicates that members of some minority ethnic groups find it is more acceptable.


Councillor Laura Price asked why the new teams will be managed by Response, why it is easier to do this through the third sector and if the public sector can be made more attractive.  Officers responded that the third sector has a huge resource of skills and experience different from conventional services.  A proportion become NHS workers and the Council promotes apprenticeships.  The arrangements include clinical supervision and mentoring.


Councillor Price also noted that Further Education colleges are not mentioned in the report.  Sarah Breton responded that the new teams will not be involved with FE colleges but special work is targeted at individual young people.


The Chairman thanked officers for their report.  He asked for a further report at the February meeting which would help better understanding of the third sector and report the impact on waiting times.

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