CHILDREN’S mental health services are unsatisfactory, say parents and doctors.

Labour Party members in Worthing West and East Worthing and Shoreham asked GPs about their experiences with CAMHS, the NHS service for children’s mental health.

Of the 24 who responded, 91 per cent rated CAMHS as “unsatisfactory” or “very unsatisfactory”.

One GP said: “CAMHS do not provide a service – 100 per cent of referrals are returned or declined.”

A Freedom of Information request found more than half of mentally ill children referred to CAMHS are not offered treatment.

Across the UK, a tenth of all NHS funding goes to mental health services, with children’s services getting about seven per cent of that.

Sam Turrell, from Portslade, said her 12-year-old daughter Phoenix had suffered with mental health issues since she was five.

She said: “Our experience with CAMHS is not great.

“When Phoenix was in infant school, I knew something was wrong and so a CAMHS worker asked me to fill in a form about her.

“She fell one point short of them taking the next steps to offer help and support.

“You can’t just go by a form and box-ticking because not every child fits into a box.

“Since nursery, Phoenix has found it difficult to integrate with other children. She has high anxiety, depression and anger issues, but CAMHS provide nothing.

“They don’t keep to their own deadlines, failed to record our meeting due to their IT system not working and they are scared to give a diagnosis because it would mean they would have to act.”

The Labour party members produced a leaflet showing the findings and distributed it in Worthing town centre.

But a CAMHS nurse said the leaflet has caused anger among staff.

He said: “It is outrageous that the leaflet says nothing about the hard work that CAHMS workers do.

“We feel we do a really good job under tough circumstances, with inadequate resources and chronic underfunding.

“When parents see this leaflet, some will assume there is no service at all.”

Carl Walker, press officer for East Worthing and Shoreham consituency Labour Party, said: “The leaflet is not meant as a criticism of CAMHS, the criticism is aimed at chronic Government underfunding of our children’s mental health services.

“We took the decision to make it public because there was so much concern from the GPs who answered the survey.”

A spokeswoman for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We recently announced that an independent review is to take place of children and young people’s emotional and wellbeing services in Sussex.

“As is the case across the country, our child and adolescent mental health services are experiencing increasing demand.

“We need to be bold and creative in using resources and developing new ways of providing care.”