2017 CAMHS Conference review

We welcomed delegates and speakers to our Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services conference last week. The event brought together national speakers, charity organisations, and members to provide a holistic view of the present CAMHS environment.

Julian Emms, Chief Executive of Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the NHS Benchmarking Network’s Mental Health Reference Group opened the conference, introducing the first speaker and keynote address, Kathryn Pugh, Deputy Head of Mental Health for NHS England. Collaboration between services and organisations to treat young people in the right place was highlighted throughout Kathryn’s presentation, which is a focus in the Green Paper for Children and Young People’s (CYP) mental health.


Professor Paul Burstow, Professor of Mental Health Policy at the University of Birmingham, took to the lectern next, opening with powerful statistics on health risks for those with adverse childhood experiences. Paul reiterated Kathryn’s point on implementing a whole system approach for CAMHS provision, and identified the need for the current reactive model of care to shift to a proactive ‘wellbeing’ model, beginning at promoting good health. 

The focus on a whole system approach continued with CAMHS Consultant, Psychiatrist and Digital Lead for NHS England, James Woollard, presenting on the implementation of digital for the betterment of Child & Adolescent Mental Health services. James introduced the opportunities within augmented reality, virtual reality and smartphone apps, enabling the service user to cope with their emotions effectively.

Remaining with the tech theme, we heard from Mike Streather, Head of Mental Health Intelligence at Public Health England, who provided an update on the Children and Young People Mental Health Tool. The recent developments to the tool better support early intervention within CAMHS, and will be available to use from Spring 2018. Mike’s presentation demonstrated the opportunities of benchmarking against similar populations to gain intelligence and improve decision-making.

Director of the Network, Stephen Watkins, delivered the highly anticipated CAMHS benchmarking findings. We heard how Community CAMHS activity is static along with similar levels of Community waiting times to 2015 and 2016. Additionally, as demonstrated in the conference sessions and from the project data, new investment in CAMHS is evident. The CAMHS benchmarking toolkit will be emailed to all participants in the coming weeks, and we greatly appreciate the involvement from all participating organisations.

The afternoon sessions began with Chief Policy Advisor for Young Minds, Marc Bush. His presentation focused on the ambitions and implementation of government policies, and current challenges in areas such as waiting time standards and training of sector professionals. Marc also identified other voluntary organisations encouraging improvements in CYP mental health support.

We closed with member good practice from Tees, Esk & Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust, speaking on Tier 4 Tertiary Care, part of the New Care Models pilot. The Trust spoke about their Crisis Resolution & Home Treatment (CRHT) teams for CAMHS, providing care closer to home, fewer young people being admitted, and reduced lengths of stay. The benefits from this pilot have already been recognised around the country and the Trust are looking at opportunities for a similar model in Eating Disorders. If you would like to share your innovative working with the membership, please contact Emma Pruce for more information.

If you have any project queries, please contact Aneesa Halim, Project Coordinator. Thank you to all who submitted to the project and attended the conference in both a delegate and presenter capacity.

If you are interested in any of our future events, please contact Emma Pruce.