Thousands more children have access to mental health services, claims NHS England’s mental health director Claire Murdoch

Around 35,000 more children and young people will have access to mental health services this year compared with three years ago, claimed Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s mental health director, at the Health Plus Care show in London.

Speaking in a debate on how to embed mental health in system transformation, she said: “You did not see eating disorder services for children open routinely, now you do.”

Murdoch also highlighted a 12% increase in referrals for psychosis, along with a 9% increase in staff to support them.

But she stressed how far there was to go in providing the complete range of services for children and young people, pointing out the shortfall would not be tolerated in other areas of care: “We would not prescribe half a course of antibiotics.”

We would not prescribe half a course of antibiotics

She believed the big push to Improve Access to Psychological Therapies – IAPT– was “the biggest talking therapies programme in the world”.

To help deliver it, 3000 new therapists will be working in primary care.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer praised the national mental health drive, saying: “We have never seen a programme of this ilk.”

But he stressed that local organisations could not “rely on a powerful top-down approach”.

Farmer highlighted Bradford and Sheffield as places where national, local and voluntary services were working “seamlessly”.