This is because contracts for a new all-age eating disorders service in Kent and Medway and an innovative children and young people’s mental health service in Kent have been awarded to the same organisation: NHS trust NELFT.
Currently, different trusts provide different aspects of the service, and there is no separate specialist service for people with eating disorders: it is part of wider mental health services.
Although the contracts were awarded separately, NELFT won both of them after being judged best for quality and value for money by each of the teams involved, who included GPs and mental health specialists. All the Kent services provided by NELFT will be based locally.
Children, young people and families with experience of mental health problems, and teenagers and adults with experience of eating disorders played a key role in the process, including setting out what they expect from the new service.
As a result of this, from 1 September 2017, children, young people and adults with eating disorders in Kent and Medway will receive:
- earlier support, with specialist assistance available when the first signs of illness are showing
- continuity of care, with no change of service when they turn 18, if they still need support for an eating disorder
There will be one phone number for the eating disorders service in Kent and Medway for people who think they may have an eating disorder and their families. GPs wanting advice or to make a referral, and other professionals, such as teachers and youth workers, will use the number too.
Children and young people’s mental health
Children and young people in Kent (under 18) with emotional or mental health needs will get:
- one phone number and website to use for all types of emotional and mental health support (whether they just need to talk to someone or having symptoms such as hearing voices or seeing hallucinations)
- support such as advice, guidance or a referral to a service, via the same phone number or website no matter who calls – whether children and young people themselves, GPs, parents, relatives, friends, school staff or other health professionals
- better urgent and emergency care, minimising the need for children or young people in distress to spend time in A&E
- the opportunity to access support digitally in a way that best suits them.
This completely joined up approach has been made possible by Kent clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and Kent County Council (KCC) working together to develop a vision for improved emotional, wellbeing and mental health services for Kent children and young people, and put in place the services needed to deliver it. These are:
- a school public health service to support the physical and mental health of children and young people, alongside a targeted emotional health service for children and young people experiencing problems such as bereavement, relationships or anxiety. Both these were commissioned by Kent County Council from Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and started in April 2017
- the new children and young people’s mental health service planned and paid for by the clinical commissioning groups, with additional funding from Kent County Council, which will start on 1 September 2017.
Canterbury GP Dr David Grice, clinical lead for children and young people’s mental health services in east Kent, said: “We believe this innovative, joined-up, comprehensive service will make a real difference to our children and young people, improving care and their chances of making a full recovery.”
Faversham GP Dr Simon Lundy, clinical lead for eating disorders in east Kent, said: “In the medium term we believe the new eating disorders service will reduce the number of people who need long-term support, cutting waiting lists and improving patient experience. We are grateful to all those who worked with us to help develop the new requirements for the service.”
Andrew Ireland, KCC corporate director for social care, health and wellbeing, said: “In Kent, we are responding to a real call for action from children, young people and families, professionals and politicians to focus our attention on securing a comprehensive emotional wellbeing offer.”
The NHS in Kent is grateful for the hard work, skills and expertise of the staff currently delivering eating disorders services and children and young people’s mental health services. NELFT is working with the current providers and the commissioners to ensure a safe transfer of care on 1 September 2017.
NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group 30 June 2017