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Newbury MP Laura Farris leads parliament debate on Children's special educational needs and mental health services

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Children’s special educational needs and mental health services in West Berkshire have been debated in Parliament.

Newbury MP Laura Farris lead the debate yesterday (Wednesday) and called for “greater accountability and concerted efforts to reduce waiting times” for children and young people to receive diagnoses from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the district.

Speaking in the debate, Mrs Farris argued that children and young people in West Berkshire were facing "unacceptable waiting delays" to access CAMHS and receive diagnoses, particularly for autism or ADHD, which often exceed two years.

Laura Farris led the debate in parliament today
Laura Farris led the debate in parliament today

She said that these delays came at “a catastrophic cost to children’s educational and social development”.

Mrs Farris added: “There is an overall lack of accountability and urgency in West Berkshire’s CAMHS services.

“This view has been expressed to me emphatically by parents, headteachers and GPs. The issue is not unique to West Berkshire but it is stark within it.

“I brought this debate to fight for the families I represent and all those families across the UK experiencing the same struggle.

“With prompt diagnosis and timely educational intervention young people’s life chances can be transformed if they have special educational needs.

“I am determined to see waiting times slashed and proper accountability brought to the service.

“I am grateful to the many MPs across five different political parties who spoke so powerfully in my debate and for the very personal testimonies that some of them gave.”

Waiting times in West Berkshire are among some of the highest in the country and Mrs Farris urged ministers to address the issue and ensure that young people in the district – and across the country – are able to access services more quickly.

She also called for greater accountability in CAMHS, which has received a recent investment of £1.6m.

The debate followed Mrs Farris’s question to the leader of the House of Commons last week, where she demanded ministers were brought to the House to address the issue.

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