NHS EnglandThe first stage of a new programme to improve children’s mental health services has been launched by NHS England, including distributing £30 million to improve eating disorder services.

The aim of the investment is to ensure 95% of patients are seen within four weeks of being referred, or one week for urgent cases, by 2020.

This is the first stage of a new programme to improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing and will be used to improve community-based eating disorder services so patients are helped earlier and fewer need inpatient care.

The funding will be recurrent for 5 years as part of the autumn statement announcement in 2014, and is in addition to the £1.25 billion pledged in the March 2015 budget for CAMHS, which is also over the next five years.

In addition, the Access and Waiting Time Standard for Children and Young People with an Eating Disorder has been developed. This standard is part of a major service transformation to reshape the way mental health services are commissioned and delivered to ensure children and young people access high-quality care and support where and when they need it.

Dr Martin McShane, national clinical director for long term conditions at NHS England, said: “The number of children and young people with an eating disorder is on the rise and it is right that the Government has made this a priority and that we now have a clear waiting time standard.

“It is clinically proven that patients recover most quickly when we treat them as early and as close to home as possible. By prioritising our focus on doing this we can minimise the number of young people who end up needing more specialised inpatient care.”

Alongside this, NHS England has issued guidance to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) on submitting their Local Transformation Plans to improve mental health care for children and young people, including how they will develop eating disorder services.

This year, NHS England will spend an extra £133 million on improving children and young people’s mental health, in addition to current local CAMHS budgets and the £30 million for eating disorders. A further £9 million will be spent by Health Education England.

Of this, £75 million will go to CCGs to improve local services. They will work up their plans with local authorities, schools and children, young people and their families, for review and funding in the autumn.

Meanwhile, £58 million will fund expansion of the CYP IAPT programme, improvements to perinatal mental health care, investment in inpatient services for children and young people, build workforce capability, and support innovation and development of online support. Of this, £2.5 million will support the mental health needs of children with learning disabilities and those in the youth justice system.

Dr Jacqueline Cornish, NHS England’s national clinical director for children and young people, said: “We are on the brink of a new dawn for young people’s mental health and these are the first steps towards a new and more secure place with a brighter and more hopeful future.

“It is absolutely apparent, and something endorsed by young people themselves, that more of the same is simply not an option.

“Unless we make real changes across the whole system, opportunities to build resilience promote good mental health and intervene early when problems first arise, will continue to be missed and the opportunity to build a stronger youth for future generations lost.”