This study aimed to assess how referrers to specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) wanted priorities to be determined. Postal questionnaires were sent to practitioners referring to the service in the Bridgend district.
Nearly three-quarters of the questionnaires were returned (n=184). There was wide variation between professional groups in the priority attributed to different presenting problems, their modification by ‘contextual factors' and acceptable waiting times for the service. Mental disorder, self-harm, child abuse and complex cases require greatest priority.
Needs of referrers must be considered when deciding priorities for specialist CAMHS, however diverse these appear. If youth mental health needs are to be addressed, better communication between services, and clearer definition of the role of specialist CAMHS is imperative.
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