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NHS changes could affect neglected and abused children in Kent

More than 55,000 neglected and abused children in Kent could be sidelined as a result of NHS changes being rolled out nationwide.

The warning comes as the NHS begins merging mental health planning decisions across huge areas of the country.

Concerns have been raised by the NSPCC after it analysed the latest annual mental health plans published by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in Kent.

Using a ‘traffic light’ system it rated every CCG in England for their understanding of the needs of vulnerable children and found 82% are failing to achieve this.

All those in Kent were given an amber, meaning “action is needed to improve” their plans.

The children's charity says there are currently 55,105 neglected or abused children in the county requiring help from the CCGs.

It is now calling on the NHS England to set out how it will prioritise the needs of vulnerable children and is calling for more transparency about how CCGs make decisions about mental health services.

Children who have been abused or neglected are more likely to struggle with mental health issues including anxiety, depression and PTSD.

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NSPCC head of policy Almudena Lara said: “Children who have lived through the trauma of abuse and neglect need all the support we can give them to help them recover.

“We know there are fantastic mental health services supporting lots of these children up and down the country.

“But it’s not enough, and a system that’s already struggling to properly plan for their mental health needs will render them all but invisible if action isn’t taken now by NHS England.

“Millions more children could be affected unless the NHS ensures that vulnerable young people are explicitly recognised in the new commissioning arrangements.”

Across the South East there are 138,391.

The NSPCC is now calling for:

  • A commitment from NHS England to put the needs of vulnerable children at the heart of its implementation of the NHS 'Long Term Plan'
  • Greater accountability and oversight from NHS England, with more transparency from commissioners on how mental health services for children are funded and planned.
  • Decisions about what mental health services to provide around the country for children to be rooted in a detailed assessment of local needs, which includes specific reference to vulnerable children.

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