A MENTAL health trust has rejected criticism by the NSPCC after it said many youngsters were being forced to wait to be assessed before being rejected for treatment.

The charity said more than 100,000 children who had been referred to mental health services in England over the past two years were turned away.

In the case of the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley (TEWV) NHS Foundation Trust, which covers County Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire, the NSPCC said that after being assessed 3,780 children had not been accepted for treatment in 2016/17.

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This was from a total of 14,904 referrals to child and adolescent mental health services across the trust area.

The NSPCC described nationally a “worrying picture of a postcode lottery of waiting times”, with the average waiting time ranging between just two days in some areas to more than five and-a-half months in others.

A TEWV spokeswoman said the trust had reduced average waiting times over the past three years for assessments from 36 days to 16 days.

Since the start of the new financial year in April this year 94 per cent of young people had received an initial assessment, whether over the phone or in person, within its target of four weeks.

She added: “While the figures for us may appear to show that these young people are being rejected for treatment that is not the case.

“It may be that the young person has been assessed and then moved on to another service or alternative provider for more appropriate care.”

The spokeswoman said that referrals among young people were increasing and it had put measures in place to provide timely access and assessment for young people and their families.

This included a ‘single point of access’ programme, which had significantly reduced waiting times by offering a telephone assessment and signposting within 24 hrs of any referral.

The NSPCC said previous research showed that an increasing demand for mental health services for young people across the country meant many, including those who had suffered sexual abuse and neglect, were not meeting clinical thresholds for access to treatment.

Peter Wanless, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We recognise the hard work of mental health professionals in trying to help young people get their lives back on track.

“However, too many children who need help are struggling to access support and treatment.

“The Government’s upcoming Green Paper on mental health must urgently evaluate the early support systems available to young people to ensure that no child is left to suffer in silence.”