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CAMHS services praised for care, patience and approachability by CQC

Becton Centre
18 November 2022

Sheffield Children’s has been praised by inspectors for creating an environment where young people feel well cared for, for its patient and insightful staff and for its approachable leaders.

The feedback came from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as part of its inspection of CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) services for young people who require inpatient care or support in the community.

Inpatient wards retain their overall rating of Good.

In Community CAMHS the ratings for being effective, caring and well-led have all been raised from Requires Improvement to Good.

The service retained its Requires Improvement rating, though inspectors recognised significant improvements since the last inspection in 2019.

Yvonne Millard, Chief Nurse at Sheffield Children’s, said: “Since our last inspection, our teams have worked incredibly hard to provide good quality services and make improvements, whilst also responding to the challenges of the pandemic and a rapid increase in the number of young people needing our care and support. We are delighted that the CQC have seen significant improvement in our Community CAMHS service in spite of these challenges.

“We recognise there is more we can do and we have already taken action on many of the points raised by inspectors. By listening and learning from others – and most importantly the young people and families we support – we can continue our journey to providing outstanding care.”

Sarah Dronsfield, CQC head of hospital inspections, said: “During our inspection of mental health services for children and young people at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, we found leaders had a good understanding of the service they were running and were visible and approachable for patients and staff.

“In the child and adolescent mental health wards (CAMHS) staff felt proud to work in the service and told us they were part of a supportive team, who cared for each other as well as their patients. It was good to see staff were supported to improve their knowledge and skills and were encouraged to progress their careers.

“However, in CAMHS inpatient wards we did find issues around environmental risks and blanket restrictions. In the specialist community mental health services for children and young people, waiting times and caseloads for practitioners remained high.

“The trust has started to take action to make the necessary improvements and we will return to check on progress.”

Areas raised for improvement include:

  • Increasing the availability of communal spaces like quiet rooms. While young people were able to ask to go in, they couldn’t always access them independently
  • Some delays in rearranging cancelled appointments
  • System access for agency colleagues
  • Waits for services
  • The number of children assigned to each clinician

Areas highlighted as positive include:

  • Good feedback from patients and their carers. Children and young people said they felt safe and well cared for. Parents and carers said they felt involved and kept up-to-date
  • Staff were described as patient and insightful
  • The environment was well suited to the needs of young people
  • Inpatient areas were clean with good infection control
  • Risk assessments were up to date and helped manage risks for young people
  • Patients were grateful for the flexibility appointments and the settings in which these could happen
  • The Sheffield Treatment and Recovery (STAR) team’s expansion was seen as having improved access to mental health services for the wider community
  • Leaders had the right skills, knowledge and experience, a good understanding of their services and were visible and approachable
  • Recognition that staffing levels were managed well in the context of a national staffing crisis

The full report provides more detail on the areas where Sheffield Children’s is doing well and where it can improve. This will be available on the CQC website here –

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