Mental Health

What was delivered?


Since 2020, the AHSN Network’s Focus ADHD programme programme has supported NHS mental health trusts and community paediatric services to improve ADHD diagnosis for children and young people, with more than 55,000 patients across England benefiting since April 2020.

Nationally, delivery of the Focus ADHD programme has led to a 22% reduction in nurse school observations in Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and resulted in a 19% release of clinical time in paediatric services, as well as 9.2% in CAMHS. 

The reduction in nurse school observations and outpatient appointments has resulted in an estimated 155,894 kilograms of carbon dioxide (kgCO2e) avoided, supporting the NHS to meets it net zero goal. 

A national evaluation of the programme in October 2022 showed that 92% of clinicians said that it had helped them to understand patients’ symptoms. 

At a regional level, we have worked with local stakeholders in the Oxford and Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) AHSNs to deliver the programme, sharing our knowledge and expertise to improve patient pathways locally. 

  • We have established a Focus ADHD Community of Practice, which supports health and care professionals across the south east and Dorset region with implementing the QbTest as part of the ADHD assessment pathway. 
  • Attended by over 200 professionals, our CoP was delivered every two months, with input from specialists and academics within the neurodevelopmental field, encouraging connections and support between neurodevelopmental teams within AHSN geographies and beyond.
  • Since the start of the programme, more than 4,000 children and young people in the south east have received a QbTest, supporting faster diagnosis and access to treatments. 
  • Across the south east, we have also trained over 400 health and care professionals to deliver the QbTest and secured £110k in additional funding to support trusts with their implementation. 

Eating disorders

Alongside this, the AHSN Network’s FREED programme continues to support mental health teams across England to accelerate the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders in young people.

In 2022-23, the national programme has enabled 2,225 patients in England to start evidence-based treatment under FREED, resulting in £9,950,200 savings to the NHS, which equates to a £4,472 saving per patient.

At a regional level, we have continued our collaborations with Oxford and Kent Surrey Sussex AHSNs, enabling our regions to benefit from economies of scale. 

Our collective work has brought together those with an interest in the spread and adoption of the FREED model. This has resulted in eight mental health trusts across our south east and Dorset AHSN footprint successfully implementing FREED, in addition to 100% of eligible eating disorder services. 

  • This has enabled 277 patients to start treatment as part of the FREED pathway, and provided an evidence based, sustainable model for early intervention in eating disorders for 16 to 25 year-olds who have had an eating disorder for three years or less.
  • Over the course of the programme, we have facilitated 11 community of practice meetings across our shared regions, attended by 205 healthcare professionals.
  • We have also conducted an audit to explore the potential role of peer support in eating disorder services. Surveys aimed at the NHS workforce, service users and carers gathered their views and experiences.
  • With over 100 respondents, the audit findings were used to co-create a South East AHSN peer support webinar in March 2023, providing a forum to share best practice and to learn how to safely implement these roles. Attendees heard from peers currently working in eating disorder services and gained insights from their feedback. We saw a 40% increase in attendees’ knowledge post event and 100% said they would advocate that peer support workers should be included within their own eating disorder teams. 
  • Our South East Innovation in Eating Disorder event held in November 2022 was attended by ninety clinicians and commissioners to discuss the role of innovation in services. As a result of this event, two eating disorder services are piloting a digital CBTe self-help tool.
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