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Scandal of children being treated on adult psychiatric wards

Data showed 260 children were treated on adult psychiatric wards despite the practice being banned

Ministers banned the practice of treating children and young people with mental health problems on wards containing adults six years ago.
But despite that, an investigation has revealed that vulnerable young people are still being put on the same wards as adults, some of whom have severe psychiatric problems.
Campaigners for better mental health treatment have now slammed this ongoing issue, saying that minors are going through terrifying experiences at a time they should be being helped.
Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman who had responsibility for mental health in the coalition government, described it as a scandal which must be stopped immediately.
According to data from NHS Digital, there were 47 children and young people being treated on adult psychiatric wards in the month of July. Eight of those were aged 15 or under.
The statistics which show treatment figures from January to July this year, show that there were a total of 39 children aged 15 or under, 90 children aged 16 and 131 aged 17 treated on adult wards.In 2014-15, a total of 391 children were treated in such wards.
Under Gordon Brown’s government, new rules were brought in which mean that NHS mental health trusts have to provide care in an “age-appropriate” environment.
The new regulations came into force following criticism from parents, charities, MPs and the children’s commissioner for England.
Mr Lamb said: “The simple truth is that this has to end completely. It’s scandalous that the practice continues. It is unsafe and wrong. There must be a clear and unequivocal commitment from this government to eradicate the practice completely without delay.”
Legislation means that 16 and 17 year olds can be treated on adult wards if there are exceptional circumstances, including emergency admissions. However, under 16s should never be on adult wards.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the number of children having treatment on adult psychiatric wards had dropped by 60 per cent over the past six years.
He is due to make an announcement on Tuesday around the issue of mental health care for children. He said that the government had recently added an extra 50 beds to bring the total number available in children and young people’s mental health services up to 1,442.
Young Minds chief executive Sarah Brennan said: “Young people often find it terrifying to be placed alongside much older patients, and say that it adds to their distress rather than helping them.”