The number of children attending A&E departments for psychiatric conditions has more than doubled in the past four years, recent figures show.
According to official data, the number of attendances of children with mental illnesses at A&E is up 8% to 18,673 in 2014-15, compared with 17,278 the previous year. That is double the 9,328 total of 2010-11. The number then being admitted to hospital wards has also gone up: in 2014-15 there were 12,309 admissions of under-18s in which the primary diagnosis was “mental and behavioural disorders”, against 12,126 the previous year.
Mental health experts say the main cause for the rise is an absence of out-of-hours community care for vulnerable under-18s, with children being advised to attend A&E after 5pm. A recent YoungMinds investigation found that more than half the councils in England had cut or frozen budgets for child and adolescent mental health between 2010-11 and 2014-15.
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