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Recruitment problems delay plans for children’s wellbeing hub as NSPCC criticises Suffolk’s mental health provision

PUBLISHED: 18:51 26 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:16 26 September 2017

The wellbeing hub will be based at Landmark House in Ipswich. Picture: SU ANDERSON

The wellbeing hub will be based at Landmark House in Ipswich. Picture: SU ANDERSON

An Ipswich doctor has expressed his disappointment after it was revealed the opening of a mental health support centre for children across Suffolk has been delayed due to recruitment problems.

Dr Michael McCullagh of Orchard Medical Practice in Ipswich. Picture: PAGEPIXDr Michael McCullagh of Orchard Medical Practice in Ipswich. Picture: PAGEPIX

The project is a key part of the county’s children and young people’s emotional wellbeing plan, which has come under fire by a national charity for inadequately factoring in the needs of those who have been abused or neglected.

The new “multi-agency” self-referral hub was due to open at Ipswich’s Landmark House in December and will be the first port of call for young people in distress, and their families.

However, at a public meeting today of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) it was announced the facility is unlikely to launch until February to March next year because of issues finding the right staff.

Speaking during the meeting, Michael McCullagh, a GP in Ipswich and member of the CCG, said: “I’m disappointed by the delay of the wellbeing hub.

Richard Watson, chief redesign officer at Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG. Picture: PAGEPIXRichard Watson, chief redesign officer at Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG. Picture: PAGEPIX

“Because there are so many different agencies involved in this it’s a bit like corralling the cats. Is there a guarantee that we can rely on this being delivered?”

Richard Watson, chief redesign officer at the CCG, assured the hub would come to fruition, adding: “I would rather get it right than rush.”

This comes on the same day the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has criticised the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs on their children’s mental heath plan, which they were required by the Government to develop in late 2015.

NSPCC has assessed these plans on their provision for abused children, and it has given Suffolk an amber score, which means it is inadequately planning for their care.

According to the charity, there are 17,837 abused children in Suffolk and research shows they are twice as likely to develop depression compared to peers who have not been harmed.

Professor Tanya Byron, NSPCC trustee and clinical psychologist, said: “Failing to plan is planning to fail, and alarmingly most CCGs are setting themselves up to fail children who have already been through abuse and trauma.

“It is unacceptable that despite the huge number of children estimated to have been abused, and the known link between abuse and mental health problems, the vast majority of our health services do not have a proper strategy for how to take care of these children.

“CCGs need to urgently review and improve their plans so that they are fully prepared to help children when they need it most. And Government needs to hold CCGs to account to publish high quality plans in a timely fashion every year.”

Nationally, 62% of CCGs were given an amber rating and 21% were given a red rating.

A spokesman for Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs said: “The focus of Suffolk’s plan is on delivering a family-focused approach and improving access to help and advice services for all children and young people, including those who have been abused or neglected.

“The creation of a multi-agency emotional wellbeing hub is integral to this plan and is currently being developed.”

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