There is Still Time for Transformation Plans to Deliver the Ambitions of ‘Future in Mind’

2 September 2016

Such is the variation in children’s and young people’s mental health services that it doesn’t come as a surprise some areas have robust plans, whereas others need further work.

The criteria used by the Education Policy Institute to review local transformation plans was quite rigorous. While that is good, especially if we want local areas to be ambitious, it doesn’t quite match up with the guidance local areas received from NHS England.

Local transformation plans had to be completed in a short time-frame and over the summer months. This was a big ask, especially if clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) hadn’t started looking into how they would implement Future in Mind, didn’t have good relationships with schools, or hadn’t already consulted with children and young people (or had a mechanism to do so). This doesn’t let CCGs off the hook – the plans are living documents, so there is still time to improve them – and some areas still need to get their heads around the guidance ambition that “more of the same is simply not an option”.

We agree with the barriers identified in the review. Having a good plan is a start, and should be used to develop a coordinated whole systems approach, with an emphasis on early intervention. However, if there isn’t the funding or the workforce to implement it, then it is unlikely to achieve the ambition set out for children and young people.

The current plans should be seen as the start of the transformation process, rather than an end point. There is an opportunity for them to evolve, improve and truly involve all stakeholders.  However, their second iteration needs to be more ambitious and fully encompass the blueprint set out in Future in Mind. If they don’t, then there is real trouble ahead.

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The above article is a commentary piece that we wrote for Children and Young People Now as part of their article Spotlight on local CAMHS Plans, which was published on 30th August 2016.  It focuses on the Education Policy Institute's report 'Progress and Challenges in the Transformation of Young People's Mental Health Care'.