“DIFFICULTY in getting referrals” and “poor communication” are among some of the issues revealed after a review of children’s mental health services across Bury.

More than 300 parents have provided feedback on their experiences of the Healthy Young Minds service which is provided by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Healthy Young Minds is an intervention service that operates in Bury, Rochdale, Trafford and Oldham to promote the emotional and psychological wellbeing of children and young people.

“Overwhelming concerns” were raised about how patients access services, the “difficulties faced by families” in getting referrals and “very long waiting times” as part of the review conducted by Healthwatch in Greater Manchester.

Pennine Care welcomed feedback about its services and pledged to work as hard as possible to improve.

The review highlighted that some parents had turned to private consultation due to “a lack of ongoing support and poor communication over extended periods.”

Data showed there were regional variations in the provision of the Healthy Youth Minds service. In Bury, parents expressed concerns that young children “were not always given the opportunity to fully voice their feelings.” Parents also felt that their experience of accessing the mental health services was better when schools and Healthy Young Minds worked closely together.

Barbara Barlow, chairwoman of Healthwatch Bury, said: “Healthwatch exists to monitor local health and care services for the people who use them and their work is based on quality outcomes which are prescribed by Healthwatch England.

“As part of Healthwatch Bury’s prioritisation process, which involves feedback from parents and an online survey, Healthy Young Minds was identified as a local priority. It was considered beneficial to carry out a review of the service in partnership with other Healthwatch organisations, in order to get a complete picture across the sector/provider footprint. Our sole aim is to improve services for patients.”

She added: “We are very grateful for the assistance of professionals/organisations who worked with us to enable us to gather information, but we are especially grateful to the parents who often had to relive some very traumatic memories of what they had been through with their children. Without their honesty, this report would not have been possible.”

The review findings combined surveys of parents and professionals as well as focus groups with parents and carers.

Positive comments were usually related to individual staff members or when treatment had been successful.

Dr Henry Ticehurst, Pennine Care's medical director, said: "We are always keen to have feedback about our services and hear about people’s experiences.

“Their views matter hugely and we’ll carry on working as hard as we can to continuously improve our services."