The number of Lewisham children waiting more than a year for access to specialist mental health services is creeping back up after a huge drop. 

In October 2018 it emerged that 96 young people were waiting more than 52 weeks after being referred to Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services (CAMHS), compared to five in Croydon, 11 in Lambeth and one in Southwark.  

But after funding from NHS England, introducing a Lewisham CAMHS Service Manager, and improving contacts with those on the waiting list, the number dropped from 96 to 10 in March and to one in May.  

However the latest report from September showed an increase from one to 11 young people waiting for more than a year.

A council spokesperson said the council would continue to work with partners to “monitor and review our strategies to ensure this improvement is maintained”.

At the last children and young people select committee in May, where it emerged the number had dropped by 95, concerns were raised about whether the progress would be sustainable.  

Research shows that early intervention is the best treatment for mental health issues.  

£1.4 billion was allocated to CAMHS in 2015, to be spread out over five years, but the overwhelming majority of spending goes on those with the most severe needs. 

The council spokesperson added: “No child who needs specialist mental health services should have to wait too long to get them.

“We are pleased that our NHS partners and the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) have been able to take swift action to reduce the number of Lewisham children facing excessive waiting times for this crucial service.

“A range of initiatives was introduced between October 2018 and April 2019 which brought the waiting list down significantly and it is now in line with neighbouring local authorities.”

The latest report will be discussed on Thursday (December 5) at a select committee meeting.