Councillors in Milton Keynes ‘staggered’ as some young mental health patients wait an average six-to-eight MONTHS as ‘silent pandemic’ grows

Members of a council committee were shocked after being told that some young mental health patients are having to wait an average of up to eight months for treatment.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 3:46 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 3:48 pm

Health officials said that during the coronavirus pandemic young people have been experiencing a host of issues including eating disorders, anxiety, low mood, self harm, and bullying.

“We do have average waits that are running into six to eight months for some of our pathways… and that’s average wait,” said Vicky Hancock, the deputy service director for mental health services in MK for CNWL.

She went on to say that “waits are longer than we would like at the moment.”

Speculating on the causes, she added that “anecdotally, I suspect it’s around the uncertainty of the world at the moment.”

She added that they keep in touch with children on waiting lists and try to keep children in their own homes.

Cllr Alice Jenkins (Cons, Danesborough & Walton), said: “I think that’s quite breathtaking.

“They are long periods of time for our young people to have festering mental health issues.

Increasing mental health caseloads
Increasing mental health caseloads

“They are no doubt presenting in a much more severe way once they do get treatment. It’s staggering.”

Vicky Hancock went on to stress to MK Council’s health and adult care scrutiny committee that they concentrate on providing treatment to those most in need.

Wednesday’s meeting was also told that the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) area has seen big investments.

More than £17.3 million is being pumped into BLMK over the next three years to establish a mental health inpatient unit for children and young people in BLMK.

How mental health referrals for children and adolescents have increased

BLMK has also been awarded £700,000 over the next three years for eating disorders to enhance core services and day care.

Community services are also being bolstered by school teams in Bletchley, in the Stantonbury area from this September, and the central area in 2022.

Officials said that these teams would cover the Milton Keynes “arc of deprivation.”

Conservative group leader Cllr Alex Walker (Cons, Stantonbury) wanted to know what the council could do to help.

“We are seeing a silent pandemic that had crept up on us and I think we will start to see the real scale of that,” he said.

“It’s time to look at other options to address the acute crisis that we are facing now.”

He said this can include writing to the city’s two MPs and asking “for more cash”

Committee chair, Cllr Moriah Priestley (Lab, Central MK) agreed it is a “silent pandemic given what we’ve been through in the last 18 months.

“We’ve been experiencing some of those challenges even in our own homes.

“Given the scale of what we are facing, there is merit in beginning to look a bit more closely at what we are doing as a city.”

The committee also agreed to ask the council’s cabinet to investigate waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).