Venus Williams Wants Us All To Talk More About Mental Health – Forbes

Venus Williams Wants Us All To Talk More About Mental Health – Forbes

Venus Williams first stormed the pro tennis circuit in the late 1990s and made her Grand Slam fina…
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Oskar Nash: Health director overcomes tears and tells teen’s mum his death ‘really does matter’

A director in the NHS Trust leading Surrey's mental health services has told the mother of a teenager who took his own life the death “really does matter”. A coroner found neglect by the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) contributed to 14-year-old Oskar Nash's suicide on a railway line near Staines last year. Oskar's emotional and mental health was never clinically assessed – despite professionals recognising Oskar's need and making a series of requests to CAMHS spanning over a decade. Read more: Surrey teen hit by train referred for mental health support four months earlier Justine Leonard, Surrey and Borders Partnership (SABP) NHS Foundation Trust’s director of children and young people's services, told a prevention of further deaths hearing in Woking last week that there had been changes made to the triaging process and the staff who do it. Ms Leonard overcame tears as she told Oskar's mum Natalia: “His death really does matter. We've given an awful lot of reflection to the systems.” She told the coroner: “If a child like Oskar were to present today… we'd have taken into account things like the concerns that Mrs Nash had for her son, the fact that he had disengaged from school, concern about the relationships he had forged, his substance misuse and the fact that he was a child with autism. “If a child like Oskar were referred today, we would be taking a different approach.” A referral to CAMHS from Oskar's GP in September 2019 was triaged by Olivia Biancardi, a registered counsellor who was not clinically qualified. She told the coroner in the inquest earlier this year she had based her decision on the GP’s letter alone and did not look at CAMHS’ own records, even though the doctor had noted Oskar was known to the service, and she said this was the usual practice. Oskar was triaged as 'routine', meaning the referral would be in a long queue and would typically be referred on to a partner agency. And this is what happened in December, one month before he died, when assistant psychologist Rachel McPherson passed him on to the counselling service Relate West Surrey. He was taken off the CAMHS caseload and not followed up by them. Instead he was placed in Relate's queue to be seen, with a waiting period at that time of possibly four to six months. Supervisor Christina Powell told the coroner if she had seen the GP's referral letter, which asked for Oskar to be seen urgently and told of his Asperger's, she would have rejected the referral. Ms Leonard said last week if a child like Oskar were to present today, he would be referred to a clinical service, not a counselling service. “We recognise it was important to significantly review our screening and triage processes,” she said. Assistant psychologists are no longer allowed to categorise the urgency of referrals coming in; that must now always be done a qualified clinical member of staff, which was not the case in 2019. Back then they only had four clinicians, namely registered mental health nurses and registered social workers with CAMHS experience, and now there are 12. Ms Leonard said all of the 12 had extensive experience, although it was not currently mandatory for them to have training in autism. They are told they need to record reasons for their decision-making and, in what was noted as a significant change, they are now instructed to review historical records and are able to use their discretion. “Where a child is known to us we'll be looking at our records; that is a direction,” said Ms Leonard. “It wouldn't be just what's written in the mental health triaging scale, it will be triangulating their own knowledge and what the GP said. They need to take on board all of the information available to them.” The hearing also heard from Jessica Thom, a programme director at SABP, who said since November they had been piloting a red flag on the software to alert those triaging to any learning disability, and the plan was to roll that out to neurodiversity too. She said: “A red icon on the landing page signals they need to be aware the child will have that condition when they're making decisions on where the child needs to go.” Earlier in the week, Oskar's secondary Cobham Free School gave evidence to the coroner that the school would make referrals to CAMHS only to have the case closed. Joint head of senior school Laura Newman said: “Our biggest issue is that we have to have the consent of the parent and that is not always given. “Sometimes it's given, but if the child doesn't want to engage they then close the case. “It can be very very hard for a person with autism to engage with an unknown person on the phone and very often the case is closed at that point. “When CAMHS make a phonecall to triage the child, they'll often ask to speak to the child directly and ask them if they'd like help. Very often the answer will be no and at that point they'll close the case.” This was at odds with evidence from Ms Leonard, who sits on SABP's board of directors and is responsible for their part in delivering the Mindworks Surrey contract. This is the rebranding of CAMHS since the contract was won in April this year by a new alliance of organisations; SABP is the lead provider but it also includes Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, National Autistic Society, Barnardo's and Learning Space. She said: “Safeguarding trumps. Any indication of safeguarding type concerns, the clinician would act. “Now we contact who has made the referral to let them know. We'd formulate a plan together. “The explicit ambition of Mindworks Surrey is that we're much more creative and collaborative in the ways in which we work together to address needs of young people. “So if it's difficult to engage a family for whatever reason we would want to engage with all supports. It's the safeguarding agenda that trumps every time.” For children and young people with neurodevelopmental needs, including those who are autistic or have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), support can now be accessed through SABP's partners before a formal diagnosis is made. Ms Leonard said it was “absolutely” of concern what Chobham Free School had relayed and she would follow it up. Angela Patrick, on behalf of Ms Nash, asked if she had any inkling why that might be the school's recent experience despite CAMHS's change of system. Ms Leonard said: “I don't, because there are very few referrals that we turn away. The minimum we do is signpost some support. “I'm really sorry that has been the school's experience.” A parent cannot make a referral directly to the access and advice team, the single point of contact that was known as C-SPA before April when the Alliance took over. Ms Leonard said it was the intent to move towards direct referrals from parents, but for now they need to be made through a school or GP. Mindworks Surrey's 24/7 mental health crisis line is free to call on 0800 915 4644. The Samaritans helpline can also be called 24 hours a day on 116 123. Download the SurreyLive app for a better reader experience and to get news from the areas you care most about. Download it via the App Store for iOS or Google Play for Android.
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Health chiefs name England’s Omicron hotspots as West Northamptonshire tops the charts …

England’s Omicron hotspot was today revealed as West Northamptonshire as No10’s scientific advisers warned the mutant strain could trigger the biggest wave yet — but UK-wide daily Covid infections dropped for the first time in over a week. Up to 83 cases of the highly-evolved variant have been detected in West Northants with 27 officially confirmed by lab analysis, according to the UK Health Security Agency.  Regionally, most cases are concentrated in London where the virus is believed to have been seeded by incoming travellers. Eight of the 10 areas with the highest Omicron counts are in the capital.   UK Omicron cases jumped 45 per cent in a day, with 817 cases confirmed so far. But Government scientists insist it is already in every corner of the country and is doubling every two to three days. Separate data by the UKHSA that lends weight to the theory today showed around 90 per cent of local authorities in England saw Covid infections begin to rise in the week to December 5.  Yet despite fears about the mutant strain, the Department of Health said the UK’s daily Covid cases fell 6 per cent in a week to 50,867 today. Daily deaths were up 5 per cent with 148 more victims. Latest hospital data shows there were 813 on December 5, marking a 16 per cent rise on the previous week. SAGE has warned Omicron is likely to trigger a peak of infections larger than any previous wave, despite having vaccines and a wall of natural immunity on the country’s side this time around.  Omicron has dozens of mutations on its spike protein and is spreading ferociously in South Africa where up to 80 per cent of people have natural immunity and lab tests suggest it can infect double-vaccinated people with relative ease.  Boris Johnson activated his Covid contingency plan last night in response to fears the highly-mutated strain may cause a million infections by New Year and trigger 1,000 NHS admissions by January if left unchecked. From next week, people in England will be advised to work from home, wear face masks in cinemas and theatres, and use vaccine passports for large events.  Sajid Javid today claimed that the sudden shift to Plan B was ‘proportionate’ and would ‘buy time’ to allow the NHS to dish out millions more booster jabs. But the Health Secretary also dangled the threat of even tougher orders being rolled out in the coming weeks, admitting that ministers will keep the current policies under constant review.  The UK Health Security Agency has revealed the ten areas with the highest number of Omicron infections. West Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire were the only areas not in London. The eight in the capital were Croydon (up to 10 cases), Hackney (14), Lambeth (16), Newham (22), Brent (14), Greenwich (16), Wandsworth (13) and Lewisham (26).  But it is likely that Omicron may already be in many local authorities. Some 817 cases in the UK — and 696 in England — have been confirmed to date, although the locations of many are not known. Three of the areas recording the most Omicron cases are also seeing the fastest upticks in their infection in the country. These are Greenwich (up 63 per cent in a week), Daventry in West Northamptonshire (up 46 per cent) and Newham (up 45 per cent). Separate data revealed today that 90 per cent of local authorities in England are now seeing their infections begin to rise as the variant spreads in the country.  Scientists say Britain’s Omicron cases are already doubling every two to three days, and may be 20 times higher the actual figure. They say spikes in Covid cases are already being seen in some areas.    It comes after King’s College London scientists suggested the country’s Covid outbreak grew four per cent last week, despite the variant beginning to spread. The UKHSA yesterday published a list of the top ten areas that have the most confirmed Omicron cases in England, and the number of suspected cases in each.  But they have refused to reveal the full list of areas where Omicron has emerged, although figures suggest it is already widespread. Separate data showed that out of the ten areas with the fastest growing infection rates in England, five have already detected at least one case of Omicron. These included Greenwich, Newham and Daventry with the biggest outbreaks in the country. But Portsmouth (up 44 per cent) and Southwark (up 43 per cent) were also on the list, having detected at least one case of the variant. There were also surging outbreaks in Copeland, Barking and Dagenham, West Devon, the Forest of Dean and East Lindsey despite none having any confirmed variant cases to date. For comparison, across England cases rose 11 per cent last week. Britain checks about 20 per cent of its Covid cases for variants. It means many are likely slipping under the radar, and No10’s scientists suggest the current tally is likely around 20 times higher than confirmed cases.  Omicron cases can only be confirmed using sequencing to check the virus’ genetics. But PCRs can give an early indication of whether someone has the variant. They look for three specific mutations to detect Covid, but in Omicron one is so mutated that it does not show up during the test. Covid cases spiralled rapidly in South Africa after the mutant variant gained a foothold, with cases rocketing more than 300 per cent week-on-week for days on end. SAGE adviser Professor Edmunds says this situation could be ‘immidiately translated’ to the UK because both countries have high levels of immunity. In South Africa around 24 per cent of people are fully vaccinated, but most already have immunity from previous infection during a major wave. In the UK around 70 per cent of people are now double-jabbed, and millions of others have immunity from previous infection. He told a Royal Society of Medicine public lecture today: ‘South Africa’s situation…. I think you could immediately translate that to the UK. We both have high levels of immunity.  He added: ‘Could we potentially have something double quickly here? Yes, and that is exactly what we are now seeing.’ The top epidemiologist added, however, that it was still too early to tell whether the mutant strain is more mild than other variants. MailOnline analysis shows fewer patients are being admitted to ICU in South Africa’s epicentre Gauteng now than at the same point during the Delta wave.  Experts said it was possible that the strain could be more mild, but added that more people have immunity now than when the other variant first took hold. SAGE scientists are already ramping up the rhetoric to suggest that more restrictions could be needed in the country to keep the variant under control. Documents from a sub-group of SAGE showed last night that the UK could face a bigger wave of infections than in January because of the varinat. The documents — form the SPI-M-O group — did point to caveats in the work, however. They said that it was difficult to make comparisons with South Africa because a much larger proportion of its population is young than in the UK. They add: ‘It is not yet clear whether or how Omicron escapes from natural immunity and/or vaccine-induced immunity and which of these is the likely main driver of its apparent fitness advantage.’ Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of No10’s top scientific advisory group, warned the UK could ‘need much more severe restrictions’. While Plan B will ‘slow the spread’ of the super-strain, the University College London epidemiologist argued the measures are ‘not going to turn around’ the looming wave of cases and hospitalisations. Sajid Javid today claimed that the sudden shift to Plan B was ‘proportionate’ and would ‘buy time’ to allow the NHS to dish out millions more booster jabs. But the Health Secretary also dangled the threat of even tougher orders being rolled out in the coming weeks, admitting that ministers will keep the current policies under constant review. It means Britons could still be stung by last-minute Christmas curbs again after millions were deprived from seeing their loved ones last year when the Alpha variant took off. SAGE modeller Dr Mike Tildesley hinted at a watered down Christmas this year, claiming that it was ‘very important’ to allow people to be together this year — but in a ‘safe way’.  Mr Johnson has already hinted that Covid jabs could eventually be compulsory, telling last night’s Downing Street conference that a ‘national conversation’ on the matter is likely to be needed in the future. And while vaccine passports have only been imposed on large scale events at the moment, Mr Johnson suggested they could be rolled out more widely in society. The Government is already being lobbied by independent scientists to go harder, with Independent SAGE, a ‘zero Covid’ group of experts, telling ministers to ‘bring in more measures right now… then we may be able to avoid a lockdown’. Yesterday Professor Neil Ferguson, one of SAGE’s top modellers, warned a full-blown lockdown might be needed to protect the NHS from Omicron. UK Covid infections grew by just four per cent last week, the country’s biggest symptom-tracking study claimed today despite warnings Omicron is quickly outstripping Delta. King’s College London scientists estimated 83,658 people caught the virus on average each day in the week to December 4, up from 80,483 the seven days prior.  Cases are stagnant or falling in all over-55s thanks to the booster rollout but are rising in all younger age groups, especially children who make up about 30,000 daily cases alone. Broken down within the UK, London, the South East and Wales saw cases rise. Professor Tim Spector, who leads the ZOE symptom study, said that while it was too early to see Omicron in the data, he warned the NHS could be overwhelmed if cases of the super-strain begin to skyrocket as predicted. He said the evidence — alongside claims it may be more mild than other strains — was no reason to be ‘relaxed’, adding: ‘The higher rate of transmission even in the vaccinated could have devastating consequences… Hundreds of people continue to die every week as we head into our second Christmas of this pandemic.’ Professor Spector, who has been calling for more restrictions since September, welcomed Boris Johnson’s Plan B announcement last night but feared it is ‘too little, too late’. From next week, people in England will be advised to work from home, wear face masks in cinemas and theatres, and use vaccine passports for large events.  SAGE, the Government’s scientific advisory group, has warned that there could have been a million Omicron cases and 1,000 daily hospital admissions by the end of the year without Plan B.
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