The delivery and capacity of mental health services in the UK have been widely criticised in the press and in the courts over recent days.

The Times has reported the high-profile case of an emotionally-vulnerable and suicidal teenage girl who is in danger of being discharged from the secure unit where she has been for the past few months without adequate, safe, alternative provision being put in place by the NHS.

Sir James Munby, president of the family division of the High Court, described the teenager’s situation as both “shocking” and “shaming” and has criticised the “lack of proper provision of the clinical, residential and other support services so desperately needed by increasing numbers of children and young people.”

He has warned the NHS that he will hold them accountable if suitable care is not put in place for the girl, commenting further that “I cannot escape the powerful feeling that, but for my judgement, the steps subsequently taken (by the NHS) would have been neither as effective nor as speedily effective.”

This devastating criticism of NHS mental health services comes at the same time as the release of data, obtained by The Times, that shows high levels of violence and abuse against mental health patients, including 199 cases of abuse of patients in the course of last year with 39 investigations into the abuse of child patients.

The children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, is quoted as saying, “we are not demonstrating the right levels of curiosity and determination about their (children’s) treatment.”

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