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Aneurin Bevan University Health Board – Priority support for Service children in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board – Priority support for Service children in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is the operational name of Aneurin Bevan University Local Health Board. The Health Board covers the area of South Powys and Gwent – the local authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen.

This case study showcases the impact of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) identifying Service children as a priority group for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) support, to share with other health boards in Wales and across the UK and encourage them to follow this good practice.

Case study completed by:

Kola GamelService Group Manager, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and Public Health Nursing (Aneurin Bevan University Health Board)

Caitlin Woodland – Regional School Liaison Officer for Service children in East Wales (Newport City Council and SSCE Cymru)


Findings from the SSCE Cymru school survey (2019) revealed important information about Service children’s mental health and wellbeing:

  • 54% of schools indicated that they would benefit from information on mental health and wellbeing support for Service children (p.12)

  • 44% of primary schools and 29% of secondary schools said that supporting Service children with their emotional and wellbeing needs is a challenge (p.6)


Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB)’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant and the Armed Forces’ community has been strengthened by priority treatment given to Service children’s referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Along with other Health Boards, ABUHB offers CAMHS to children/young people under the age of 18. This service includes a range of interventions and treatments, such as consultation, psychiatric assessment, developmental assessment and individual therapy. 

Which areas of the Armed Forces Covenant are supported?

This initiative meets the Covenant strands: ‘improve the availability of information about the Armed Forces Covenant for the Armed Forces Community in Wales’ and ‘improve communications relating to the Armed Forces Covenant in Wales made by/between local authorities; and promote and share best practice’.

What is involved in the process?

Services in Gwent (Health, Local Authority and Local Education Authority) have a single point of contact for all emotional wellbeing and mental health service referrals and for the booking of appointments, called the Single Point of Access for Emotional Wellbeing (SPACE-Wellbeing). Referrals can be made directly to SPACE-Wellbeing by the Service child’s parent or parents can talk to a GP, teacher, social worker or any children’s services professional about making a referral to SPACE-Wellbeing.

The SPACE-Wellbeing referral form contains a section on priority treatment for Service children and young people, which needs to be completed as part of the referral process. This option on the referral form ensures that every child/young person identified as a Service child receives priority treatment and support with the Health Board once their referral is accepted. There is no distinction between a child/young person of current serving Armed Forces personnel and those of ex-serving personnel (veterans); both are supported under the covenant. SPACE-Wellbeing passes on referrals for CAMHS concurrently (within 24 hours) and there is no delay in receiving this information into the Health Board.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, a direct line for families was set up which now enables parents to receive ‘reassurance, support and validation’ by accessing support directly from senior clinicians. For a short period of time, the working day was extended to 24 hours. Through a combination of the direct line, remote/virtual support and face-to-face support, where clinically indicated, there was a maintained, limited wait time to access CAMHS support.

How is the impact of this support for Service children measured?

An improved performance management and reporting framework was implemented in the CAMHS service in late 2018 (full implementation of CAPA Model). This reports on referrals into CAMHS, assessment approaches, treatment options, clinic outcomes, patient tracking and discharges.

Since including on our referral forms the option to indicate whether a referral is for a Service child, a clear pathway is now in place for Service children. There is currently no waiting list for any child or young person to access CAMHS and the service does not anticipate any difficulty in meeting the covenant commitment in the future.

What is the impact?

Currently, the flow of all patients moving through CAMHS is consistent and, on average, an initial assessment/appointment takes only 3-4 weeks.

There has been a recent focus on the effectiveness of CAMHS delivery to ensure that the impact of Covid-19 is mitigated for children/young people. Demand, flow and outcomes for patients have been reviewed, managed, and measured.

“As part of reflective conversations, we asked whether any measures could have been done differently and the answer is no; everyone accessing our service is guaranteed a prompt response and focus on their need hence why we are the only CAMHS service in Wales with no wait time since 2017.”

Kola Gamel, Service Group Manager

Future plans

SSCE Cymru encourages other Welsh University Health Boards to adopt this policy in support of Service children and the Armed Forces Covenant. We are able to support this, so please contact us for further advice or guidance.

For further information about the service or to access support visit the ABUHB CAMHS webpage.

Date produced: March 2020


Service children’s quotes

"As soon as we get used to a house, you get moved - I’ve been to four schools and moved six times."


"I lived in Nepal, then we went to Brunei, then Malaysia."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"I’m used to moving now and mixing with the children... I’ve done it so many times, it’s just a normal thing now."


"It's ok talking over skype and that, but sometimes you just want a hug when Dad is away."


"I’ve enjoyed going around to lots of places around the world, it's adventurous and exciting."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"My mum got a chalk board and it says how many sleeps on it with chalk, every minute it’s getting closer for him coming home."


"I don’t want him to get promoted... I want him to get promoted but I don’t want to leave."


"I might be going to boarding school so that I don’t change schools every few years."


"I've been to seven different schools; I’ve not stayed put in one school long enough."


"He has been away for six months and he is back for two weeks, then he goes away again."


"My parents were in the Army. My mum is a like a nurse and my dad went to the war in Afghanistan. I actually didn’t really know what he was doing so I was like, ‘Cool Dad, go there,’ but then I found out and thought, 'Thank God he came back alive.'"


"He signed off last week, so he will be done by the end of this year. He’s done 24 years. I find that better because he will be around a lot. He likes watching us playing rugby, so he will get to see us more."


"I’m going to a new place entirely. They don’t know anything about me and that’s a big restart and that’s really good for me."


"I moved to Wales because my dad was posted in the Army. I thought I would get bullied and I was shy when you meet new people, but I made some friends."