The NHS is made up of more than 8,000 organisations, with many more across the wider health and care sector.
NHS figures show that thousands of young people undergoing a mental health crisis are having to wait more than four hours for A&E care.
Figures compiled by the Labour Party show that almost a fifth of the under-18s who seek A&E help in England for psychiatric problems such as depression and self-harm are not seen within the supposed maximum of four hours. While 82.2 per cent of such patients are seen within four hours, 17.8 per cent are not. Across the 65 acute trusts that supplied data, 11,210 of the 13,205 under-18s with a mental health problem were seen within four hours but 2,357 waited longer.
In total, 26,593 children and young people aged 17 or under attended A&E last year as a result of mental health issues. Labour says that, if the 17.8 per cent of them who had to wait beyond four hours at the 65 trusts was replicated across that entire cohort, that would mean as many as 4,733 waited that long.
Barbara Keeley, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care, said: “Young people should have the support they need for their mental health to prevent them from reaching crisis point and no child should be faced with long waits for help in a crisis."
Emma Thomas, the chief executive of the charity YoungMinds, added: “We work with young people who have waited months for mental health support and who have started to self-harm or become suicidal, who then go to A&E because they don’t know where else to turn. But despite the best efforts of staff, it’s often a stressful and frightening environment, and not somewhere a desperate child or teenager should have to wait for hours before getting help. If young people do reach crisis point, there need to be places they can go instead of A&E, where they can get the help they need in a space that feels safe."
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