young mental healthClinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England have been allocated an extra £25 million to accelerate plans for improving mental health services for children and young people, NHS England has announced.

The additional funding is earmarked for improvements such as cutting waiting times for treatment, reducing waiting list backlogs and minimising the length of stay for those in inpatient care.  

This year £149 million was awarded to CCGs following the government’s commitment to improve mental health services for children and young people in the 2014 Autumn Statement and 2015 Spring Budget. The new money has been allocated by the government with the aim of ensuring that by 2020, an extra 70,000 children and young people will be able to access evidence-based treatment.  

In July, NHS England published a detailed plan – Implementing the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health – that set out how new funding should be invested to increase access and improve quality, with a clear aim to meet 35% of children and young people’s mental health needs in the community by 2020/21.

Funding received by CCGs increases each year to 2020/21, with the objective of maximising the amount available for frontline services that benefit children, young people and their families. Recognising the pressures faced by local areas in transforming their services, NHS England has reprioritised spending on national programmes to identify an additional £25 million for CCGs to spend in 2016/17.

However, in order to secure release of the additional £25 million, CCGs will be asked to provide details of how they intend to improve average waiting times for treatment by March 2017.

Clare Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health, said: “This additional funding is evidence that improving mental health services is an absolute priority for the NHS. We hope this year to see some real headway being made on ensuring that children and young people with mental health needs are seen and treated as quickly and as close to home as possible.”

It is expected that this funding will also support CCGs to continue to invest in staff training and progress plans to pump-prime crisis, liaison and home treatment interventions suitable for under 18s, with the goal of minimising inappropriate admissions to in-patient, paediatric or adult mental health wards. 

CCGs are free to pool this funding across NHS organisations in their area to help deliver local transformation plans for mental health as well as sustainability and transformation plans.