Youngsters hanging on for community and mental health services mustn’t be forgotten

11 January 2024

In response to a Labour Party pledge to end children’s long waits for hospital treatment, Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy, NHS Providers, said:

"We really welcome a focus on children and young people including pledges to eradicate waiting lists for children's hospital care. But waits for hospital treatment are just one part of a bigger problem.

"Too many children and young people face long waits for community health services and mental health services which are equally vital for their wellbeing and development.

"Waiting times for services such as speech and language therapy or autism diagnoses have risen significantly since before the pandemic and demand far outstrips capacity. Latest figures show that more than 226,000 children are waiting for community services and there are almost 497,000 open referrals to children's mental health services.

"We need a more holistic, joined-up and multi-agency care model with equal national focus on community and mental health services to support children and young people. We look forward to continuing to work with all parties to realise this aim."