There has been a steep rise in the number of A&E appearances by young people with psychiatric conditions, “alarming” new figures show.
The Department of Health and Social Care revealed that in 2017-18, there were 27,487 attendances in A&E by young people aged 18 or under with a recorded diagnosis of a psychiatric condition.
This figure has almost doubled since 2012-13, when there were 13,800 equivalent attendances, and has almost tripled since 2010.
It’s important to note these figures don’t represent the exact number of patients seen, as some will have been to A&E on more than one occasion.
But the rise is still incredibly worrying.
The statistics coincide with a survey by charity YoungMinds, which revealed 61 per cent of parents said the care their child received in crisis was “bad” or “unacceptable”.
The survey of 1,531 parents found three quarters (75 per cent) believed it would have been helpful if their child had a safe community space to go to while they were in crisis. Meanwhile 86 per cent said it would have been helpful if their child had access to support before they reached crisis point.
Emma Thomas, chief executive of YoungMinds, branded the latest figures on A&E appearances among young people as “alarming”.
“One of the main reasons that crisis services are overstretched is that young people who are struggling don’t get help soon enough, which means that problems often escalate,” she said.
“We often hear from young people who’ve gone to A&E because they don’t know where else to turn.”
“The problem is that A&E can be a crowded and stressful environment, and is often not the most appropriate place for children and young people to go in a crisis,” she added.
“That’s why the new NHS Long Term Plan must lead to increased funding for children and young people’s mental health services, and also a new approach to crisis care.”
Bambos Charalambous, the MP who submitted a Parliamentary Question prompting the figures to be shared, said: “I have spoken to utterly distressed parents during my constituency surgeries, who have been unable to access crisis care for their children. The Secretary of State’s response to me reveals some devastating statistics.
“We have a responsibility to not only provide decent care in times of crisis, but to support our younger generation before they reach crisis point. I hope the Government and the NHS take stock and provide the desperately needed funding for children and young people’s mental health services.”