2018 CAMHS Conference review

Week commencing 5th November saw the team hosting three fantastic conferences, beginning with Benchmarking & Good Practice in Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) on Tuesday 6th November.

Julian Emms, Chief Executive for Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust and NHSBN Mental Health Reference Group Chair, Chaired the conference, which offered a balance of policy, good practice and international benchmarking. The conference opened with Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan, Associate National Clinical Director for CAMHS, providing an update from NHS England. She encouraged Trusts to champion different models of care than existed at the inception of the NHS, 70 years ago. A key theme within the presentation was the importance of innovation and co-production in order to improve population health, and there was a focus on prevention and early intervention.

Louis Appleby, Director for the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) took to the lectern, providing delegates with a condensed version of the National Inquiry. Louis highlighted the patterns in data of suicide and of reporting self-harm in CYP. The facts provided from the National Inquiry demonstrated that the rise in suicide is not caused by one factor and is a multi-faceted problem, requiring involvement from primary care, schools, A&E, as well as family and friends. The full report can be located on the HQIP website.


Following this, we heard from Stephen Watkins, Director for the Network, who presented on the seventh year of data collection for CAMHS, featuring 107 services from across the UK. Included within the findings, we heard how:

  • Demand for CAMHS is rising, with just over 3% of CYP being referred to CAMHS last year.

  • There is growth in CAMHS contacts delivered in 2017/18, with the highest level ever seen throughout the six years of benchmarking.

  • Continual growth in staff working in Community CAMHS, with a workforce profile showing a strong therapy emphasis in the MDT.

You can explore the findings from this year’s project in the Report, which has been circulated to Project Leads. If you have any CAMHS project queries, please contact Project Coordinator, Alex Ng.

Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive for the Centre of Mental Health, presented the key issues in Children and Young People’s Mental Health, reiterating points highlighted from the earlier presentations. Andy gave a fast-paced presentation discussing the importance of prevention and the multi-faceted nature of Mental Health, requiring parenting programmes and support, a whole school approach, and further work in BAME to better support those with Mental Health issues.  

Returning from lunch, our delegates heard from Programme Manager, Zoe Morris, on CAMHS in the international context. The benchmarking exercise includes 13 countries, providing comparisons in admissions, length of stay and community care across countries, amongst other metrics. It was evident that different models of care and approaches are exercised across the world, and the importance of sharing insights and best practice nationally and internationally to continually improve services.

We welcomed Dr Bernadka Dubicka, Chair for the Child & Adolescent Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists, who covered the RCPsych priorities; RCP analysis showing variation in data on spending by CCGs in CYP workforce recruitment and retention, and the 2017 campaign: Choose Psychiatry, which increased the number of consultant psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees, but requires further work in supporting a mentally healthy workplace to retain staff. Dr Dubicka concluded with the RCP’s reflections on the long term plan (2028/29).  

We closed the conference with a good practice presentation from NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, explaining their activity to reduce health inequalities in CAMHS by using benchmarking across neighbourhoods. They were able to identify non-attendance and risk factors in CAMHS from the data they collected. As a result of their research, NHS GGC have initiated focus groups within CAMHS clinicians to discuss areas of high DNA, included DNA monitoring to clinical supervision, and introduced an SMS text reminder system.

Thank you to all the delegates and speakers for their input in the event and the project. Project outputs, including bespoke and national reports, have been circulated to Project Leads. If you have any CAMHS project queries, please contact Project Coordinator, Alex Ng.