Transforming child and adolescent mental health services in Wakefield


The child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) continues to improve its support for children, young people and families in Wakefield.

Since October 2019, CAMHS teams at the Trust have built on previous good work to focus on a programme of transformation, working with local health, social care, voluntary and community organisations to change ways of working for the better.

Known as the ‘CAMHS improvement plan’, the teams have focused on 10 key areas which were selected and identified from different insight and intelligence.  This includes feedback from local children, young people and families who had used CAMHS services.

The 10 key areas include; reducing waiting times for those children, young people and families who are waiting for assessment or treatment, alongside enhancing the current crisis service and support; and putting processes in place to ensure that changes are maintained going forward.

Wakefield CAMHS have also received significant funding into the service. This is to both reduce waiting lists, whilst allowing recruitment into new vacancies, in the areas of the service where the need for more capacity and support was identified.

To date, the service has reached many milestones, with a key example being the expansion of the Wakefield CAMHS crisis service in January 2020. The expansion saw the service move to 7-day working, alongside operating longer hours and working in new ways. So far these changes have helped people access urgent support easier.

The achievements of the CAMHS improvement plan are also evident in recent statistics. Data which compares performance in October 2019 to April 2020 show that all waiting times for assessment, therapy and specific treatments have reduced. This includes:

  • A 72% reduction in the number of children and young people waiting for assessment;
  • A 63% reduction in the number of children and young people waiting for treatment, following an assessment;
  • Waiting times for core CAMHS reduced from 59 weeks to 23 weeks
  • Examples in specialist CAMHS include:
    • Waiting times for art psychotherapy reduced from 74 weeks to 17 weeks
    • Waiting times for family therapy reduced from 51 weeks to 15 weeks.


In addition, feedback from children, young people and families captured through the service include:

  • “The treatment provided was done so with me in mind.”
  • “Always professional and made to feel important and that I matter.”
  • “The staff that saw my daughter were brilliant from start to finish.”
  • “The staff dealing with my child are very adaptable to any issues that arise and are able to give her a full, personal experience that’s needed.”

Michele Ezro, associate director for CAMHS transformation at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’ve listened to the challenges faced by children, young people, their carers and families when accessing CAMHS services and our improvement plan has been driven by these.

“The progress we’ve made in the six months from October to April is a testament to all involved in the CAMHS service. We’ve made huge steps and it’s important we take the time to celebrate as a service.

“We know we are on a journey and are dedicated to continue to improve and enhance our services for the people who need them.”

The improvements also focus on making CAMHS a better place to work for staff.

Carmain Gibson-Holmes, general manager at Wakefield CAMHS, said: “Our goal is to deliver an outstanding service for children, young people and their families, whilst also making CAMHS a great place to work.

“Wakefield CAMHS is made up of passionate, highly-skilled and caring staff. It’s therefore important that our improvement plans focus on them too; ensuring they are supported and valued in what can be a challenging, but rewarding place to work.

“I’m so proud of the whole team. They’ve not only adapted to new ways of working, but have embraced them; developing and sharing their own new ideas on how we can continue to improve.”

The next steps in the CAMHS transformation journey will see changes to help make contacting and asking for support from the team much easier for children, young people and families.

Transforming child and adolescent mental health services in Wakefield

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