Pledge to hold new health provider to account

    YOUNG people and those with eating disorders within West Kent are set to benefit from the launch of new services from September as part of a joined-up approach that will ‘make a real difference’, medical experts have announced.

    As a result of services which were previously being provided by a range of different clinical groups now being amalgamated within the west of the county, people suffering from eating disorders will no longer have to change care provider when they turn 18.

    In addition, there will now be just one phone number for the eating disorders service in Kent and specialist assistance will be available earlier – when the first signs of illness are showing.

    The new approach has become possible because contracts for a new all-age eating disorders service in the county and an innovative children and young people’s mental health service in Kent have been awarded to the same organisation: North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT).

    All the Kent services provided by NELFT will be based locally with additional financial and social care support provided by Kent County Council (KCC).

    Andrew Ireland, Corporate Director for social care at county hall, said KCC was responding to a ‘real call for action’ for the authority to secure a ‘comprehensive emotional wellbeing offer’.

    Dr David Chesover, Clinical Lead for mental health in West Kent, said the new services will have many benefits.

    “We believe the new services will make a real difference, improving care and people’s chances of making a full recovery.”

    Children and young people in Kent under the age of 18 with emotional or mental health issues will also benefit from a single phone number and website dedicated to their needs.

    It will provide advice or a referral to anyone who calls – whether children and young people themselves, GPs, parents, relatives or friends. Those overseeing the new service say there will also be better urgent and emergency care, minimising the need for children or young people in distress to spend time in A&E.

    Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, who has campaigned for improved mental health services for young people, said given the ‘chequered history’ of local provision he was not prepared to endorse the new provider:

    “Until I see for myself substantial and sustained improvements. I have asked to meet with the Chief Executive of NELFT as soon as possible to ensure that they know I will be keeping a very close eye on them and that I will not hesitate to take action if they do not deliver the expected improvements.”