Stephen Jones, from Newbold, has been travelling to Stoke-on-Trent to see his teenage daughter since she was admitted to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service unit with an eating disorder in 2020.
He said: “There’s no provision in Derbyshire at all for any CAMHS beds, if you’ve got a child or a young person who needs to be an inpatient, you have to go out of area.
“My daughter is in Stoke- it’s 71 miles door to door, it takes me two hours to get there and two hours to get back, and I have to plan all my weekend around it. It’s stopping me seeing her as much as I would do, and it’s not helping her to recover.
“It’s ridiculous, we live in a big county in Derbyshire, and there’s no provision whatsoever, I can’t get my head around it.”
Stephen hoped his daughter might get moved somewhere closer, and said the current situation meant he could only see her once every two weeks.
“I’ve no problems with the care they’re giving her, I can’t fault that, it’s just the geography of it all and the strain it puts on the family. We have another son and elderly parents, and with the cost and time, I’m only able to see my daughter once a fortnight.
“There’s no fund for travel costs unless you’re on Universal Credit, which we’re not, and because of Covid, they’re only allowing visits of one hour.
“Even if she was somewhere like Derby or Nottingham, it would still be a long way to go to see your little girl, but it would be a lot better than Stoke.”
Lee Waterhouse, founder of Chesterfield mental health charity Fuzzy Ducklings, said it was crucial to make sure children struggling with their mental health could access support locally.
“It’s unbelievable - a child’s mental health is so important, and having that care available to them locally is vital, not just because of their mental health, but the support the family will need as well.
“They’re going to be coming daily to visit their child, and if they’re miles away, that’s going to be impossible, or they’ll have to give up their jobs and stay there while the child is in hospital - it’s just not practical at all.”
Toby Perkins has been supporting Stephen’s bid to have his daughter moved closer to Chesterfield, and said he was shocked when he was told that there were no CAMHS beds available at all in the county.
“I was contacted by Stephen a few months ago whose daughter had been admitted to a mental health unit in Stoke. The family were having difficulties visiting as often as they would like and this led to their daughter feeling like her family did not care about her, which exacerbated her mental illness and meant she has had to spend even longer in hospital, “ he said.
“I wrote to the Chief Executive at the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs CAMHS services in Chesterfield, to see if the girl could be moved to a unit closer to home and was shocked and alarmed to learn that Derbyshire has no mental health beds for children and adolescents, and that all patients have to go out of area if they require in-patient services.”
Mr Perkins asked for investment to ensure there is bed space in Derbyshire for mental health patients, and said people in Chesterfield should not be denied local treatment.
“I have submitted a Written Parliamentary Question to the Health Secretary regarding my concerns and to try and find out how Derbyshire compares to other areas. I have also contacted the Derby & Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group to ask for an explanation as to why there are no CAMHS beds in Derbyshire.
“I’m not sure if there is a lack of space within the Derbyshire NHS estate but if there is, then we need to see capital investment to purchase or build appropriate units to create the bed space needed. It is not fair on patients or families if people are being sent miles from home, leaving them isolated and impacting on their recovery.
“My constituents deserve the same access to mental health treatment as other areas and I will be pursuing this to ensure these services are made available.”
Ifti Majid, Chief Executive for Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said that the majority of children and young people who need CAMHS beds are admitted to facilities in either Nottinghamshire or Northamptonshire, and that the trust is working to improve local support. “Specialist inpatient beds for children and young people with mental health needs are commissioned by the East Midlands Provider Collaborative - Northamptonshire as the Lead Provider - with Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust being formal partners. Whilst there are currently no commissioned beds within Derbyshire, children who live in Derbyshire who need a CAMHS bed have equal access to the services that are provided across the East Midlands.
“We work to ensure that a bed is identified as close to home as possible, for as short a time as necessary. In the majority of cases this would be in Nottinghamshire or Northamptonshire, where appropriate.
“Locally we are increasing the support we can offer children and young people in their home communities, to reduce the need for a hospital admission where possible. This includes expanding our Derbyshire based young people’s crisis services and the support currently offered in schools.”
Mr Majid also said that sometimes, due to a lack of available beds or the unique requirements of a patient, they may have to go further afield for care.
“When children and young people are in inpatient care, we look to put appropriate support measures in place to ensure regular contact with families and the local CAMHS teams based in Derbyshire.
“There may be occasions where it is not possible to identify a bed within the East Midlands – either due to availability or a specialist need that means a different facility is better suited to the individual’s clinical requirements. In these circumstances we would seek to find a placement as close to home as possible.
“Where a child or young person presents with both physical and mental health care needs, they may be admitted to our local children's hospital wards in Derby or Chesterfield, depending on the particular individual needs.”