NSPCC: Oxfordshire abused children need early help

Picture posed by model
Picture posed by model

Children in Oxfordshire who have suffered abuse and neglect need planned services to be assured of help and save increased mental distress as adults.

The NSPCC estimates more than 19,000 children in the county who have been abused or neglected are not covered by adequate NHS plans for their mental health needs.

The charity says Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) is one of 146 rated ‘amber’ that have failed to properly plan for the needs of vulnerable children including those who had been abused.

“It’s the planning, not the services on the ground. There is no criticism of the mental health services or the workers,” said NSPCC’s Gareth Hill.

“Abuse and neglect could be any kind of maltreatment arising from being left alone, not given enough to eat or adequate clothing to physical and sexual abuse, or children living with domestic violence.”

He said early intervention is necessary to relieve distress in children who, without help, are more liable to succumb to depression as adults.

“Research shows adults who suffer abuse in childhood are twice as likely to develop clinical depression. Early support is key to minimising the long- term impact of mental health issues,” he said.

“The NSPCC is calling on all CCGs to urgently recognise and plan for the increased mental health needs of children who have been abused.”

The charity analysed the latest annual plans published by CCGs which set out how they will care for children’s mental health and found that across England 88 per cent were failing to plan properly for the needs of vulnerable children.

All 195 CCGs in England were given a traffic light rating and for 2017-18, 146, including Oxfordshire, were rated amber and 21 were rated red.

“Half of CCGs have stagnated and received a red or amber rating for the second year running, with no apparent improvements in planning for the mental health needs of abused children,” said Mr Hill.

“Oxfordshire CCG received an amber rating for the second year running meaning action is needed to improve the plan for the county’s estimated 19,116 children who have been abused or neglected.”

The last available figures for the number of children in Oxfordshire are for 2016 and show there were 139,686 aged between one - 17 years.

The NSPCC calculations are based on the ‘Radford Study’ - the last major study on child abuse and neglect, carried out in 2011 which showed 21.9 per cent of 11-17 year olds and 8.9 per cent of under 11s faced abuse and neglect in the home.

Those percentages were used to calculate the new estimates.

Oxfordshire CCG said: “The Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) has recently been redesigned to focus on early intervention, information, advice and consultation and delivering speedy access to mental health support for our most vulnerable children and young people.

“OCCG recognises children who have suffered abuse and neglect are likely to have emotional needs and some will require specialist mental health support. It was with this in mind our services were redesigned in partnership with young people, their families and key stakeholders.

“OCCG has commissioned a specialist mental health service for under 18s who have experienced sexual abuse.

It works in partnership with the local authority, NHS providers, the sexual assault referral centres and voluntary sector.”

A spokesman for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which provides the county’s mental health services, said: “As noted by the NSPCC, Oxfordshire’s NHS staff continue to work hard to provide much-needed mental health services to young people, and the NSPCC’s ratings are not a reflection on those services.

“We provide specialist services for those who have experienced child sexual abuse, and we also work closely with agencies such as the social services and Thames Valley Police to safeguard vulnerable children and young people from abuse and exploitation.”