Hertfordshire health chiefs have been told by the NSPCC to sort out their ‘inadequate’ mental health plans – as they ‘completely ignore’ children who have suffered abuse.
The child protection charity estimates that there are 35,489 children in the county who have been abused or neglected, and are being let down by an inadequate mental health plan.
The NSPCC analysed local clinical commissioning groups’ (CCGs) published mental health plans and gave each plan a traffic light rating based on how well it had factored in the needs of children who have been abused.
And the mental health plan by Herts Valleys CCG received a red rating, having made ‘no reference whatsoever to the needs of children who have been abused’.
Hertfordshire, Aylesbury Vale & Chiltern and Milton Keynes were the three CCGs out of 10 in the East of England to be given the lowest rating by the NSPCC.
NSPCC trustee and clinical psychologist Professor Tanya Byron said: “Failing to plan is planning to fail, and alarmingly most CCGs are setting themselves up to fail children who have already been through abuse and trauma.
“It is unacceptable that despite the huge number of children estimated to have been abused, and the known link between abuse and mental health problems, the vast majority of our health services do not have a proper strategy for how to take care of these children.
“CCGs need to urgently review and improve their plans so that they are fully prepared to help children when they need it most.
"And Government needs to hold CCGs to account to publish high quality plans in a timely fashion every year.”
A joint statement from Hertfordshire’s two NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The care and support of vulnerable children and young people living in Hertfordshire, as well as their parents and carers, is a real priority.
“Children who have suffered trauma which may have been as a result of abuse in their early years are now being supported locally with a targeted service to help them.
"We are all working together, with advice from the NSPCC and child protection charity Lucy Faithfull Foundation, on a countywide strategy to improve the way we safeguard and support the emotional wellbeing of young people who have been abused or are at risk of sexual abuse and those at risk from harmful sexual behaviour.
“In addition, we are refreshing Hertfordshire’s Local Transformation Plan, which sets out how we are improving emotional and mental health support services in the county. A key goal is to get early help for all children and young people who need emotional wellbeing and mental health support as well as treatment for those with a diagnosable mental health condition.
“Children, young people, parents, carers and professionals can find out more about early help support and specialist services in Hertfordshire at www.healthyyoungmindsinherts.org.uk“