Tag Archives: Children

Sharp rise in number of children admitted to intensive care in England

The number of children admitted to intensive care in England has risen sharply since 2009, putting additional pressure on already overstretched health services, researchers have warned.

A study of admissions to paediatric intensive care units in England found a nearly 15% increase from 2004 to 2013, with a larger than expected rise against population growth from 2009 onwards. In Wales there was a more than 2% rise over the period studied.

But the authors of the research said it was unclear what is behind the surge in numbers. However, they noted that migration and better survival rates for those born prematurely could be a factor.

The spike seen from 2009 onwards also correlates with cuts to public healthcare spending, the researchers say. “From 2004 to 2009, public healthcare spending in the UK increased by 8.3% per annum; however from 2009 onwards, it grew at just 1.9%,” they write.

Admission rates were higher in areas of England with high numbers of mothers born outside the UK, particularly those from eastern Europe. This includes the South Central region, for example, where there was a 43% rise over the period studied, and London, which saw an increase of nearly 31%.

“We wanted to investigate why there was a rise in admissions and to see if it was due to an increased birth rate or other factors. Following analysis, only a proportion of the rise was due to birth rate; we think the additional increase over what would be expected could possibly be due partly to migration into England, and the problems associated with newly-migrated populations into a new country,” said one of the authors, Prof Elizabeth Draper of the University of Leicester.

She added: “Another factor is that increasing numbers of critically ill children are surviving pre-term birth and other major illness who may not have survived in the past.”

Dr Peter Davis, consultant in paediatric intensive care at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: “What is changing is probably the nature of and type of patients admitted. They tend to have conditions that are more complex and chronic. That won’t change, as parental expectations now are that there should be more done for children than in the past. People are offered all sorts of treatment and packages and surviving longer.”

Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Draper and colleagues said that whatever the reason for the rise, it looks set to continue. “Increasing numbers of critically ill children requiring paediatric intensive care in England and Wales will prove challenging both for [these] services and commissioners, as increased demand potentially outstrips resource,” they conclude.

Researchers at the University of Leicester and the paediatric intensive care unit at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children analysed admissions data from the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network along with population data, including births, comparing predicted admission numbers with the actual figures.

The paper found admission rates were slightly higher among boys than girls and were also higher among children of South Asian ethnicity.

The steepest rises were among younger children up to the age of five and those with breathing or cardiovascular problems. Infants under one made up almost half the total annual admissions.

Davis said: “NHS England has a review ongoing at the moment looking at what they are doing in paediatric intensive care and paediatric surgical care. Within that they are looking at issues of where children are cared for.”

“We need to look at investing into making sure that we have we got the right number of beds in the right places to support these children. We know in winter intensive care beds get very tight … The concern within the profession is whether the review will mean more investment or just the same funding distributed differently.”

Sharp rise in number of children admitted to intensive care in England

The number of children admitted to intensive care in England has risen sharply since 2009, putting additional pressure on already overstretched health services, researchers have warned.

A study of admissions to paediatric intensive care units in England found a nearly 15% increase from 2004 to 2013, with a larger than expected rise against population growth from 2009 onwards. In Wales there was a more than 2% rise over the period studied.

But the authors of the research said it was unclear what is behind the surge in numbers. However, they noted that migration and better survival rates for those born prematurely could be a factor.

The spike seen from 2009 onwards also correlates with cuts to public healthcare spending, the researchers say. “From 2004 to 2009, public healthcare spending in the UK increased by 8.3% per annum; however from 2009 onwards, it grew at just 1.9%,” they write.

Admission rates were higher in areas of England with high numbers of mothers born outside the UK, particularly those from eastern Europe. This includes the South Central region, for example, where there was a 43% rise over the period studied, and London, which saw an increase of nearly 31%.

“We wanted to investigate why there was a rise in admissions and to see if it was due to an increased birth rate or other factors. Following analysis, only a proportion of the rise was due to birth rate; we think the additional increase over what would be expected could possibly be due partly to migration into England, and the problems associated with newly-migrated populations into a new country,” said one of the authors, Prof Elizabeth Draper of the University of Leicester.

She added: “Another factor is that increasing numbers of critically ill children are surviving pre-term birth and other major illness who may not have survived in the past.”

Dr Peter Davis, consultant in paediatric intensive care at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: “What is changing is probably the nature of and type of patients admitted. They tend to have conditions that are more complex and chronic. That won’t change, as parental expectations now are that there should be more done for children than in the past. People are offered all sorts of treatment and packages and surviving longer.”

Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Draper and colleagues said that whatever the reason for the rise, it looks set to continue. “Increasing numbers of critically ill children requiring paediatric intensive care in England and Wales will prove challenging both for [these] services and commissioners, as increased demand potentially outstrips resource,” they conclude.

Researchers at the University of Leicester and the paediatric intensive care unit at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children analysed admissions data from the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network along with population data, including births, comparing predicted admission numbers with the actual figures.

The paper found admission rates were slightly higher among boys than girls and were also higher among children of South Asian ethnicity.

The steepest rises were among younger children up to the age of five and those with breathing or cardiovascular problems. Infants under one made up almost half the total annual admissions.

Davis said: “NHS England has a review ongoing at the moment looking at what they are doing in paediatric intensive care and paediatric surgical care. Within that they are looking at issues of where children are cared for.”

“We need to look at investing into making sure that we have we got the right number of beds in the right places to support these children. We know in winter intensive care beds get very tight … The concern within the profession is whether the review will mean more investment or just the same funding distributed differently.”

Sharp rise in number of children admitted to intensive care in England

The number of children admitted to intensive care in England has risen sharply since 2009, putting additional pressure on already overstretched health services, researchers have warned.

A study of admissions to paediatric intensive care units in England found a nearly 15% increase from 2004 to 2013, with a larger than expected rise against population growth from 2009 onwards. In Wales there was a more than 2% rise over the period studied.

But the authors of the research said it was unclear what is behind the surge in numbers. However, they noted that migration and better survival rates for those born prematurely could be a factor.

The spike seen from 2009 onwards also correlates with cuts to public healthcare spending, the researchers say. “From 2004 to 2009, public healthcare spending in the UK increased by 8.3% per annum; however from 2009 onwards, it grew at just 1.9%,” they write.

Admission rates were higher in areas of England with high numbers of mothers born outside the UK, particularly those from eastern Europe. This includes the South Central region, for example, where there was a 43% rise over the period studied, and London, which saw an increase of nearly 31%.

“We wanted to investigate why there was a rise in admissions and to see if it was due to an increased birth rate or other factors. Following analysis, only a proportion of the rise was due to birth rate; we think the additional increase over what would be expected could possibly be due partly to migration into England, and the problems associated with newly-migrated populations into a new country,” said one of the authors, Prof Elizabeth Draper of the University of Leicester.

She added: “Another factor is that increasing numbers of critically ill children are surviving pre-term birth and other major illness who may not have survived in the past.”

Dr Peter Davis, consultant in paediatric intensive care at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: “What is changing is probably the nature of and type of patients admitted. They tend to have conditions that are more complex and chronic. That won’t change, as parental expectations now are that there should be more done for children than in the past. People are offered all sorts of treatment and packages and surviving longer.”

Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Draper and colleagues said that whatever the reason for the rise, it looks set to continue. “Increasing numbers of critically ill children requiring paediatric intensive care in England and Wales will prove challenging both for [these] services and commissioners, as increased demand potentially outstrips resource,” they conclude.

Researchers at the University of Leicester and the paediatric intensive care unit at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children analysed admissions data from the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network along with population data, including births, comparing predicted admission numbers with the actual figures.

The paper found admission rates were slightly higher among boys than girls and were also higher among children of South Asian ethnicity.

The steepest rises were among younger children up to the age of five and those with breathing or cardiovascular problems. Infants under one made up almost half the total annual admissions.

Davis said: “NHS England has a review ongoing at the moment looking at what they are doing in paediatric intensive care and paediatric surgical care. Within that they are looking at issues of where children are cared for.”

“We need to look at investing into making sure that we have we got the right number of beds in the right places to support these children. We know in winter intensive care beds get very tight … The concern within the profession is whether the review will mean more investment or just the same funding distributed differently.”

Sharp rise in number of children admitted to intensive care in England

The number of children admitted to intensive care in England has risen sharply since 2009, putting additional pressure on already overstretched health services, researchers have warned.

A study of admissions to paediatric intensive care units in England found a nearly 15% increase from 2004 to 2013, with a larger than expected rise against population growth from 2009 onwards. In Wales there was a more than 2% rise over the period studied.

But the authors of the research said it was unclear what is behind the surge in numbers. However, they noted that migration and better survival rates for those born prematurely could be a factor.

The spike seen from 2009 onwards also correlates with cuts to public healthcare spending, the researchers say. “From 2004 to 2009, public healthcare spending in the UK increased by 8.3% per annum; however from 2009 onwards, it grew at just 1.9%,” they write.

Admission rates were higher in areas of England with high numbers of mothers born outside the UK, particularly those from eastern Europe. This includes the South Central region, for example, where there was a 43% rise over the period studied, and London, which saw an increase of nearly 31%.

“We wanted to investigate why there was a rise in admissions and to see if it was due to an increased birth rate or other factors. Following analysis, only a proportion of the rise was due to birth rate; we think the additional increase over what would be expected could possibly be due partly to migration into England, and the problems associated with newly-migrated populations into a new country,” said one of the authors, Prof Elizabeth Draper of the University of Leicester.

She added: “Another factor is that increasing numbers of critically ill children are surviving pre-term birth and other major illness who may not have survived in the past.”

Dr Peter Davis, consultant in paediatric intensive care at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: “What is changing is probably the nature of and type of patients admitted. They tend to have conditions that are more complex and chronic. That won’t change, as parental expectations now are that there should be more done for children than in the past. People are offered all sorts of treatment and packages and surviving longer.”

Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Draper and colleagues said that whatever the reason for the rise, it looks set to continue. “Increasing numbers of critically ill children requiring paediatric intensive care in England and Wales will prove challenging both for [these] services and commissioners, as increased demand potentially outstrips resource,” they conclude.

Researchers at the University of Leicester and the paediatric intensive care unit at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children analysed admissions data from the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network along with population data, including births, comparing predicted admission numbers with the actual figures.

The paper found admission rates were slightly higher among boys than girls and were also higher among children of South Asian ethnicity.

The steepest rises were among younger children up to the age of five and those with breathing or cardiovascular problems. Infants under one made up almost half the total annual admissions.

Davis said: “NHS England has a review ongoing at the moment looking at what they are doing in paediatric intensive care and paediatric surgical care. Within that they are looking at issues of where children are cared for.”

“We need to look at investing into making sure that we have we got the right number of beds in the right places to support these children. We know in winter intensive care beds get very tight … The concern within the profession is whether the review will mean more investment or just the same funding distributed differently.”

Sharp rise in number of children admitted to intensive care in England

The number of children admitted to intensive care in England has risen sharply since 2009, putting additional pressure on already overstretched health services, researchers have warned.

A study of admissions to paediatric intensive care units in England found a nearly 15% increase from 2004 to 2013, with a larger than expected rise against population growth from 2009 onwards. In Wales there was a more than 2% rise over the period studied.

But the authors of the research said it was unclear what is behind the surge in numbers. However, they noted that migration and better survival rates for those born prematurely could be a factor.

The spike seen from 2009 onwards also correlates with cuts to public healthcare spending, the researchers say. “From 2004 to 2009, public healthcare spending in the UK increased by 8.3% per annum; however from 2009 onwards, it grew at just 1.9%,” they write.

Admission rates were higher in areas of England with high numbers of mothers born outside the UK, particularly those from eastern Europe. This includes the South Central region, for example, where there was a 43% rise over the period studied, and London, which saw an increase of nearly 31%.

“We wanted to investigate why there was a rise in admissions and to see if it was due to an increased birth rate or other factors. Following analysis, only a proportion of the rise was due to birth rate; we think the additional increase over what would be expected could possibly be due partly to migration into England, and the problems associated with newly-migrated populations into a new country,” said one of the authors, Prof Elizabeth Draper of the University of Leicester.

She added: “Another factor is that increasing numbers of critically ill children are surviving pre-term birth and other major illness who may not have survived in the past.”

Dr Peter Davis, consultant in paediatric intensive care at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: “What is changing is probably the nature of and type of patients admitted. They tend to have conditions that are more complex and chronic. That won’t change, as parental expectations now are that there should be more done for children than in the past. People are offered all sorts of treatment and packages and surviving longer.”

Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Draper and colleagues said that whatever the reason for the rise, it looks set to continue. “Increasing numbers of critically ill children requiring paediatric intensive care in England and Wales will prove challenging both for [these] services and commissioners, as increased demand potentially outstrips resource,” they conclude.

Researchers at the University of Leicester and the paediatric intensive care unit at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children analysed admissions data from the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network along with population data, including births, comparing predicted admission numbers with the actual figures.

The paper found admission rates were slightly higher among boys than girls and were also higher among children of South Asian ethnicity.

The steepest rises were among younger children up to the age of five and those with breathing or cardiovascular problems. Infants under one made up almost half the total annual admissions.

Davis said: “NHS England has a review ongoing at the moment looking at what they are doing in paediatric intensive care and paediatric surgical care. Within that they are looking at issues of where children are cared for.”

“We need to look at investing into making sure that we have we got the right number of beds in the right places to support these children. We know in winter intensive care beds get very tight … The concern within the profession is whether the review will mean more investment or just the same funding distributed differently.”

Sharp rise in number of children admitted to intensive care in England

The number of children admitted to intensive care in England has risen sharply since 2009, putting additional pressure on already overstretched health services, researchers have warned.

A study of admissions to paediatric intensive care units in England found a nearly 15% increase from 2004 to 2013, with a larger than expected rise against population growth from 2009 onwards. In Wales there was a more than 2% rise over the period studied.

But the authors of the research said it was unclear what is behind the surge in numbers. However, they noted that migration and better survival rates for those born prematurely could be a factor.

The spike seen from 2009 onwards also correlates with cuts to public healthcare spending, the researchers say. “From 2004 to 2009, public healthcare spending in the UK increased by 8.3% per annum; however from 2009 onwards, it grew at just 1.9%,” they write.

Admission rates were higher in areas of England with high numbers of mothers born outside the UK, particularly those from eastern Europe. This includes the South Central region, for example, where there was a 43% rise over the period studied, and London, which saw an increase of nearly 31%.

“We wanted to investigate why there was a rise in admissions and to see if it was due to an increased birth rate or other factors. Following analysis, only a proportion of the rise was due to birth rate; we think the additional increase over what would be expected could possibly be due partly to migration into England, and the problems associated with newly-migrated populations into a new country,” said one of the authors, Prof Elizabeth Draper of the University of Leicester.

She added: “Another factor is that increasing numbers of critically ill children are surviving pre-term birth and other major illness who may not have survived in the past.”

Dr Peter Davis, consultant in paediatric intensive care at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: “What is changing is probably the nature of and type of patients admitted. They tend to have conditions that are more complex and chronic. That won’t change, as parental expectations now are that there should be more done for children than in the past. People are offered all sorts of treatment and packages and surviving longer.”

Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Draper and colleagues said that whatever the reason for the rise, it looks set to continue. “Increasing numbers of critically ill children requiring paediatric intensive care in England and Wales will prove challenging both for [these] services and commissioners, as increased demand potentially outstrips resource,” they conclude.

Researchers at the University of Leicester and the paediatric intensive care unit at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children analysed admissions data from the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network along with population data, including births, comparing predicted admission numbers with the actual figures.

The paper found admission rates were slightly higher among boys than girls and were also higher among children of South Asian ethnicity.

The steepest rises were among younger children up to the age of five and those with breathing or cardiovascular problems. Infants under one made up almost half the total annual admissions.

Davis said: “NHS England has a review ongoing at the moment looking at what they are doing in paediatric intensive care and paediatric surgical care. Within that they are looking at issues of where children are cared for.”

“We need to look at investing into making sure that we have we got the right number of beds in the right places to support these children. We know in winter intensive care beds get very tight … The concern within the profession is whether the review will mean more investment or just the same funding distributed differently.”

Sharp rise in number of children admitted to intensive care in England

The number of children admitted to intensive care in England has risen sharply since 2009, putting additional pressure on already overstretched health services, researchers have warned.

A study of admissions to paediatric intensive care units in England found a nearly 15% increase from 2004 to 2013, with a larger than expected rise against population growth from 2009 onwards. In Wales there was a more than 2% rise over the period studied.

But the authors of the research said it was unclear what is behind the surge in numbers. However, they noted that migration and better survival rates for those born prematurely could be a factor.

The spike seen from 2009 onwards also correlates with cuts to public healthcare spending, the researchers say. “From 2004 to 2009, public healthcare spending in the UK increased by 8.3% per annum; however from 2009 onwards, it grew at just 1.9%,” they write.

Admission rates were higher in areas of England with high numbers of mothers born outside the UK, particularly those from eastern Europe. This includes the South Central region, for example, where there was a 43% rise over the period studied, and London, which saw an increase of nearly 31%.

“We wanted to investigate why there was a rise in admissions and to see if it was due to an increased birth rate or other factors. Following analysis, only a proportion of the rise was due to birth rate; we think the additional increase over what would be expected could possibly be due partly to migration into England, and the problems associated with newly-migrated populations into a new country,” said one of the authors, Prof Elizabeth Draper of the University of Leicester.

She added: “Another factor is that increasing numbers of critically ill children are surviving pre-term birth and other major illness who may not have survived in the past.”

Dr Peter Davis, consultant in paediatric intensive care at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: “What is changing is probably the nature of and type of patients admitted. They tend to have conditions that are more complex and chronic. That won’t change, as parental expectations now are that there should be more done for children than in the past. People are offered all sorts of treatment and packages and surviving longer.”

Writing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Draper and colleagues said that whatever the reason for the rise, it looks set to continue. “Increasing numbers of critically ill children requiring paediatric intensive care in England and Wales will prove challenging both for [these] services and commissioners, as increased demand potentially outstrips resource,” they conclude.

Researchers at the University of Leicester and the paediatric intensive care unit at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children analysed admissions data from the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network along with population data, including births, comparing predicted admission numbers with the actual figures.

The paper found admission rates were slightly higher among boys than girls and were also higher among children of South Asian ethnicity.

The steepest rises were among younger children up to the age of five and those with breathing or cardiovascular problems. Infants under one made up almost half the total annual admissions.

Davis said: “NHS England has a review ongoing at the moment looking at what they are doing in paediatric intensive care and paediatric surgical care. Within that they are looking at issues of where children are cared for.”

“We need to look at investing into making sure that we have we got the right number of beds in the right places to support these children. We know in winter intensive care beds get very tight … The concern within the profession is whether the review will mean more investment or just the same funding distributed differently.”

Sick children like my daughter don’t get enough information – so I made an app

Tuesday 29 November 2011 was the darkest of days. On that day six years ago, my wife and I listened in stunned silence as we were given the news that our 13-year-old daughter, Issy, had a rare bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma.

That was the start of a year of treatment that involved six hospitals, 18 rounds of chemotherapy, numerous blood transfusions, a failed stem cell harvest, an operation to remove her sacrum and an eight-week NHS-funded trip to the US, where she received proton beam therapy.

We slowly learned a whole new vocabulary, now largely forgotten and one that I hope I never have to relearn.

Without doubt the reason why Issy is fit and well today, and has just celebrated five years cancer-free, is because the clinical care she received was second to none.

But that’s only half the story. While the care was excellent, she was given virtually no information about the people she would meet, the hospital environments she would be treated in or the technology and processes that would be used in her treatment.

What information there was, was directed at us as parents, which left my daughter feeling isolated and ignored. She was resistant to treatments because their purpose wasn’t explained to her beforehand and she was scared of going to hospital as she didn’t know what to expect. This lack of preparedness made her sceptical about the system and has coloured her opinion of health services to this day.

Of course, this experience isn’t unique to Issy. The provision of information for children to prepare them for hospitalisation is diabolically poor. Information is either aimed at parents or the very young. There is virtually nothing for children aged six and up.

I started trawling through academic papers to see what research had been done on the information needs of children going to hospital. I discovered that there is a lot and it all supports the common-sense assumption that patients who have a better understanding of what will happen experience reduced stress and anxiety, which can lead to better clinical outcomes.

The problem is that in a cash-strapped NHS, the long-term strategic health benefits and associated cost savings of giving our children the health information they need and deserve is eclipsed by the short-term pressure to cut expenditure.

I started to think about what I could do to address this information gap, not just for cancer patients like Issy but for any child about to go into hospital. I wanted to find a way of delivering health information directly to children in a way that would make them feel engaged, empowered and informed – while having fun at the same time.

I’m fortunate that in my day job I’m the managing director of a digital innovation agency called Corporation Pop. With funding from Nominet Trust and the NHS, my team and I have spent the past couple of years developing a mobile app that we hope will address some of the problems Issy experienced.

The app aims to reduce stress and anxiety by introducing children to hospital environments, staff and processes in a playful and informative way, using 3D augmented-reality models, an artificially intelligent avatar guide that supports conversational interaction and games that demystify complex technology.

We have just heard that we’ve been successful with a large funding bid. This will not only support the final push towards launch, but will also fund independent clinical research into the efficacy of our app – hopefully proving that if we can put information in the hands of children, using language they understand, we can reduce anxiety and improve clinical outcomes.

This has been a cathartic journey for me. Immersing myself in this project has allowed me to reflect on what my daughter went through without having to get too close to the painful memories. I’ve been able to use that experience to think about how we can help children embarking on a journey through the hospital system.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com.

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views.

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When the state abandons suicidal children, something has gone badly wrong | Frances Ryan

The first time you hear a 13-year-old say they want to die stays with you. I was a volunteer counsellor at Childline for a decade until a few years ago, answering the phones, and later, replying to the online chat service. One thing that struck me around 2014 was the rising number of young people contacting us with suicidal thoughts. Some would call with plans in place. Others would type out distressed thoughts. The counsellors and staff were diligent and caring, and sometimes simply listening was what was needed.

But each time I helped a young person contact their local mental health service, I was very aware that – with growing nationwide waiting lists – there was every chance they would find the courage to ask for support, only to be turned away.

On Friday the NHS watchdog will release a report into child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in England, warning that children with mental health problems are waiting up to 18 months to be treated. The Care Quality Commission says that, when young people do get help from the NHS, many are referred by their GP or teacher, only to be unable to access support In fact one-fifth of all children referred to local specialist NHS mental health services are now rejected for treatment by overstretched services.


While suicidal thoughts is the fifth most common reason for boys to contact Childline, it’s third most common for girls

The impact of this is as inhumane as any so-called civilised country could imagine. The charity Young Minds says delays for treatment mean children are actually starting to self-harm as they wait for an appointment. Others are falling out of education and watching their life chances shrink. Some parents are breaking up because of the strain, or having to stop working so they can look after their child. Reports of children being forced to spend the night in police cells because of a lack of available NHS beds are now far from uncommon.

Increasingly, vulnerable children are being given an inpatient bed miles away from their parents’ home, or treated on adult psychiatric wards. The government likes to talk big on mental health in this country. Theresa May is keen on lamenting the “burning injustice” of insufficient mental health services, while Jeremy Hunt repeatedly criticises the “historic imbalance” between mental and physical health facilities.

It’s the definition of hypocrisy that the Conservatives are in fact responsible for slashing funding to mental health provision. More than one in five local authorities has either frozen or cut its CAMHS budgets every year since 2010. That’s £85m gone in six years. Contrary to what May or Hunt suggest, this is far from over.

Freedom of information requests from the Labour party last month found that half of local NHS bodies plan to reduce the proportion of their budgets spent on offering mental health support in 2017/18. That this is happening at a time when demand for such services is rocketing makes it all the more reckless. The number of young girls treated as inpatients after self-poisoning has increased by 42% over the past decade. Eating disorder admissions nearly doubled between 2011 and 2014. Childline reported this month that it is now receiving 60 calls a day about suicide, with children as young as 10 experiencing suicidal thoughts.

There are particular concerns over the rise in young girls facing mental health problems. NHS data released last month warned that young women are experiencing a “gathering crisis” in their mental health, linked to conflict with friends, fears about their body image and pressures created by social media. While suicidal thoughts is the fifth most common reason for boys to contact Childline, it’s the third most common for girls.

Listen to such overwhelming evidence and there is a lurking feeling of having heard it before. These warnings have been emerging repeatedly for several years now – and yet nothing is changing. Back in 2015, the NSPCC was warning of a “timebomb” of children – many of them abused or neglected – left to cope without mental health support.

Last year, Prof Dame Sue Bailey, former head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, called the situation a “car crash waiting to happen”. I can’t help but think of the words a Childline spokesperson issued last month: “Without appropriate support for young people, many are shouldering their troubles singlehandedly and turning to Childline only when they reach crisis point.”

We are at the point where young people in mental health crisis are turning to charity because there is no one else to help them. When the state is abandoning suicidal children, there is something seriously wrong.

Frances Ryan writes the Guardian’s Hardworking Britain series

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

Children raised by same-sex parents do as well as their peers, study shows

As the marriage equality vote draws toward its close, a comprehensive study published in the Medical Journal of Australia shows children raised in same-sex-parented families do as well as children raised by heterosexual couple parents.

The review of three decades of peer-reviewed research by Melbourne Children’s found children raised in same-sex-parented families did as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their peers.

The study’s findings will undercut one of the arguments that have been used by the No campaign: that children need both a mother and a father to flourish.

The study’s authors said their work aimed to put an end to the misinformation about children of same-sex couples and pointed out that the results had been replicated across independent studies in Australia and internationally.

Titled The Kids are OK: it is Discrimination Not Same-Sex Parents that Harms Children, the report comes as the postal survey voting period enters its final days. Votes must be received by the Australian Bureau of Statistics by November 7 and outcome will be announced on November 15. So far polling has indicated that the Yes campaign is headed for a convincing win.

Among the studies reviewed were the 2017 public policy research portal at Columbia Law School, which reviewed 79 studies investigating the wellbeing of children raised by gay or lesbian parents; a 2014 American Sociological Association review of more than 40 studies, which concluded that children raised by same-sex couples fared as well as other children across a number of wellbeing measures; and the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ 2013 review of the Australian and international research, which showed there was no evidence of harm.

“The findings of these reviews reflect a broader consensus within the fields of family studies and psychology. It is family processes – parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships within the family) – rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development,” the researchers said.

The researchers said that studies reporting poor outcomes had been widely criticised for their methodological limitations. For example the widely quoted Regnerus study compared adults raised by a gay or lesbian parent in any family configuration with adults who were raised in stable, heterosexual, two-parent family environments, which may have distorted the outcomes.

However, the study did find that young people who expressed diversity in their sexual orientation or gender identity experienced some of the highest rates of psychological distress in Australia, said the study’s senior author, Prof Frank Oberklaid.

“Young LGBTIQ+ people are much more likely to experience poor mental health, self-harm and suicide than other young people, “ he said.

“Sadly, this is largely attributed to the harassment, stigma and discrimination they and other LGBTIQ+ individuals and communities face in our society,” Oberklaid said.

Children from Rainbow Families discuss marriage equality plebiscite

He warned that the debate itself had been harmful.

“The negative and discriminatory rhetoric of the current marriage equality debate is damaging the most vulnerable members of our community – children and adolescents. It’s essential that we recognise the potential for the debate about marriage equality to cause harm for our children and young people,” Oberklaid said.

He said there was solid evidence in countries that had legalised same-sex marriage that it had a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of same-sex-parented families and LGBTIQ+ young people.

“As part of the medical community we feel a duty of care to all groups in our society, particularly to those who are vulnerable. Our duty extends to making sure that accurate, objective interpretations of the best available evidence are available and inaccuracies are corrected in an effort to reduce the destructiveness of public debate,” Oberklaid said.

He called for an end to the negative messages that could harm children in the final weeks of the voting period.

Melbourne Children’s is made of up of four child health organisations – the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Royal Children’s hospital, the University of Melbourne, department of paediatrics and the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.