CAMHS Benchmarking 2016 – findings published

The 2016 CAMHS benchmarking project was the largest ever, with over 100 submissions received from 77 individual participants from across the UK. We are grateful for all organisations for their participation.

CAMHS remains an area of much discussion in NHS mental health services. National strategies in all 4 UK countries reference the need to develop CAMHS services to address rising levels of demand and changes in child health morbidity.  The Network’s CAMHS work programme continues to be vibrant with the benchmarking projects being the best available reference point for NHS commissioned CAMHS services. The project also encourages the sharing of good practice and we have included examples of innovative practice within the reporting.

As well as a national report, available to all Network members, this is the first year that bespoke reports have been made available for participants.  In addition to the bespoke report, participants also receive a toolkit including over 2000 metrics for comparison.


This year’s CAMHS benchmarking provides significant insight into CAMHS provision across the UK, and the variation that continues to exist both in size of teams and the breadth of their provision. The variation in the baseline investment and capacity of CAMHS can be linked to historical commissioning levels in many circumstances.

Compared to 4 years ago, community CAMHS reports sustained increases in demand for services. Workforce numbers continue to grow, and with them the capacity to offer more services to more young people. However, the data suggests that approximately half of referrals to CAMHS do not result in a service being offered, following either a paper triage or face to face assessment. The headlines for community CAMHS in 2015/16 confirm a stabilising of demand levels and provision arrangements. However, referral and activity levels are much higher than 4 years ago and the CAMHS workforce has grown as a response to this. Waiting times for community CAMHS now have a mean average of 17 weeks from referral to treatment (11 weeks when median values are used). The average longest waiters for each provider are also consistent with last year and have a value of 26 weeks.

Inpatient CAMHS services show significant variation depending on sub-specialty bed type. Length of stay has increased in the last year which has contributed to an increase in unit costs. Low bed occupancy in Tier 4 CAMHS remains an issue as does the high level of incidents reported.

The CAMHS benchmarking programme will continue in 2017 and we look forward to working with NHSBN members to develop further CAMHS business intelligence.

For more information on this work please contact:

Zoë Page
Programme Manager

David Hughes

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