OXFORDSHIRE has been chosen as a NHS 'trailblazer site' in a Government scheme to cut the time young people wait to access mental health support.

The county has received £5.4m funding for the pilot which hopes to cut waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to four weeks by 2021.

Currently some of the county's most vulnerable youngsters are facing waits of more than 12 weeks to be seen after being referred.

The funding will allow Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Response and Oxfordshire County Council Mental Health Support Teams to improve ways of working between the NHS, schools and colleges.

The pilot, under the Government's Children and Young Peoples Green Paper initiative, will also see more staff recruited for new Mental Health Support Teams.

Head of children’s commissioning at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Oxfordshire County Council, Sarah Breton, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to fast track the work we have been doing with partners for the last year so that the CAMHS service will see more children and see them more quickly."

Last year the 15 to 19-year-olds continued to make up the largest proportion of patients referred to Oxford Health mental health services.

Between 2011/12 and 2016-17, the number of patients referred overall increased by 22 per cent while the number of patient referrals aged 15-19 increased by 80 per cent.

Service director at Oxford Health Donan Kelly, said: "This is great news for children and young people who will now have better and quicker access to our mental health services in Oxfordshire and for teachers and parents who will now be able to get advice and help at an earlier stage.

"We know that early intervention leads to better healthcare outcomes.

"Together these measures are something we’ve all been working towards to address this important and growing area of healthcare need.”