"Lack of care from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service"

About: Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust / Child and adolescent mental health care (community)

(as a parent/guardian),

My ten year old autistic son revealed in August that he has been sexually abused by a peer over about a 2 year period at school and at the other child's home.

Despite being asked to make urgent referrals by us as parents, our GP, the school and Children's Services, CAMHS have offered only a "Choice" appointment to our son in January. This is clearly a failure to recognise the damage done to our son, who CAMHS know is depressed, not sleeping, suffering low self-esteem and off school due to constant bullying. He worries that the abuse was caused by his gullibility and that he will never be able to get married as a result. He has also developed OCD tendencies recently, which worsen with every harrowing disclosure.

The GP has made us aware that when she contacted CAMHS to expedite the appointment for these reasons, the CAMHS nurse informed her that there is nothing wrong with our son, but that his parents clearly are the problem as we keep asking for help for our child. She has never met us.

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Response from Rachael Kenny, Head of Involvement, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

I am very sorry that you have had this experience and the trust would like to work with you quickly to sort it out - the CAMHS staff that I have spoken to about your post think the fastest way would be to talk directly with you and hope that you will get in touch with me to arrange this - my contact details are at the end of the email ( or Andy Porter on 2/1/13 and 3/1/13 (andy.porter@sussexpartnership.nhs.uk) as I am on holidays).

I contacted Dr Clio Bellenis, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and our Clinical Director for Hampshire CAMHS about what happened to your family. She replied that, as you have described it, your experience falls far below the level of respect and concern that our staff usually and are expected to have. She extended a sincere apology on behalf of the service for the distress you have experienced. CAMHS recognises that problems like this are devastating for any family, and we do our best to see and offer treatment in as timely manner as possible within our resources.

She clarified that only those individuals with the most severe problems are offered 'choice' appointments. A choice appointment is a first appointment at which the family will choose a course of action and appropriate future treatment together with a CAMHS professional.

CAMHS currently aims to see all young people with serious mental health problems as quickly as possible, with most being seen within 6 weeks, although this is longer that we would like. This is because of the increasing number of young people with very serious problems who are being referred to our service, some with problems so urgent that they need to be seen the same day.

Please do make contact to resolve this problem quickly

kind regards

Rachael Kenny

Patient and Public Involvement Manager

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust


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