MENTAL health chiefs say they are doing all they can to help young people in Wigan borough amid criticisms from Government chiefs over the state of services in the country.
In a BBC interview, the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said “many young people with mental health illnesses have difficulty getting support” and that it is “just plain wrong” to treat the illness as the “poor cousin” of physical health in the NHS.
However, bosses at the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust say they have improved services in Wigan.
Paula Stanford, assistant director for child and adolescent mental health at the 5 Boroughs, said: “Over the past 12 months we have identified that improvements were needed in terms of young people being able to access services.
“Since September last year we have had a single point of access for young people to get the help they need.
“This is done through our partners at the Bridgewater trust and is known as the front door and it is where GPs, schools and any other referral is dealt with.
“In the past we had a much more convoluted system and it took a lot longer for people to get access to the services they needed.
“It used to take up to two to three weeks for non-emergency referrals to be seen but now we have brought this down to within 10 days.”
“Also in A&E we now have specialist practitioners on hand to ensure anybody turning up at Wigan Infirmary is given the right help for them.
Recent reports have highlighted hospital beds being reduced and budget cuts for mental health trusts.
The deputy prime minister said both developments were “unacceptable”.
“It is just plain wrong to treat mental health as the poor cousin to physical health in the NHS.
“There are too many parts of the country that have suffered for too long with commissioners in the NHS not providing mental health services with the same support as other parts of the NHS.”
The government has made parity of esteem between physical and mental health a legal obligation in the NHS, but Nick Clegg admitted that getting true equality between the two would take time.
Mr Clegg was speaking ahead of a major conference at which the government will unveil its mental health strategy.