Council recruit specialist staff due to mental health crisis which sees 'high numbers' of children attend A&E

‘High numbers’ of children in Doncaster have been taken to A&E in a mental health crisis which has prompted the hiring of specialist staff to help those in need, council bosses have said.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 6:03 pm
A&E. Photo by Robert Perry/Getty Images

Doncaster Council has recruited, or is in the process of recruiting six specialist social workers to help children with mental health and emotional needs through the authority’s Covid-19 pressures fund.

A report seen issued by social care bosses said a ‘growing number of children’ were showing signs of mental health problems and ‘high numbers of children’ were presenting at accident and emergency units ‘having self-harmed or attempted suicide’.

Bosses said they had received this feedback through schools and NHS children’s mental health services.

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The £226,000 had been used to fund six temporary additional staff to support vulnerable children and young people who step down from social care, in particular into educational settings, many of whom have social, emotional and mental health needs.

Council bosses said the pandemic has ‘simultaneously increased the strain on families’ and reduced school capacity to manage early help cases, in particular step-downs from social care.

They added this placed a ‘risk in the system’ for vulnerable children and young people, especially for those not in an educational setting often ending up in a re-referral into social care, placing ‘greater pressure on an already stretched front door’ service.

Alison Tomes, locality service manager in DMBC’s children and young people, department, said: “A growing number of children and young people are showing signs of social and emotional mental health problems. This issue has been identified both nationally and here in Doncaster.

“Locally, this is evidenced through feedback from schools, through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and in high numbers of children presenting at accident and emergency units having self-harmed or attempted suicide.

“The number of families open to early help has steadily reduced over the last two years,in comparison to the number of families open to statutory social care, which has increased.

“It is recognised that a number of pressures relating to the delivery of the early help offer have emerged which has necessitated a review of current processes and procedures.

“Providing extra Early Help Officers in the form of Family Lead Practitioners means that educational settings will be better supported.”