Deputy PM Nick Clegg pledged to personally intervene after a Sheffield mum revealed her child faced a six-month wait for vital medical help because of budget cuts.
Mr Clegg vowed to look into the desperate mum’s plight after she challenged him over the impact of £1 million mental health service cuts.
The promise came at The Star’s Meet Nick Clegg event last night - during which the Hallam MP told the 130-strong audience he had suffered months of personal vilification by opposition politicians since signing a coalition pact with the Tories.
He said: “I have been, for months, subject to the most outrageous scaremongering from Labour in Sheffield, predicting the end of the world as we know it because of the cuts.”
The Lib Dem leader was tackled by Helen Basu Chaudhuri, aged 45, over why mental health services in Sheffield had been slashed by £1m.
The widowed mum-of-three said her child, a primary school pupil, saw a GP in November and was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service - CAMHS - with signs of severe anxiety.
But three months later an appointment has not yet been set up with a child psychiatrist.
Doctors have told Mrs Basu Chaudhuri budget cuts have left them with diminished resources and it may be another three or four months before her child can be seen. .
The mum asked Mr Clegg: “The Government have given a commitment that there will be no cuts to frontline services. You personally have talked about an increase in funding for mental health. I have a child who has mental health problems and CAMHS in Sheffield has had 16 per cent cuts. Their waiting times have increased from six weeks to six months. Can you explain this?”
Mr Clegg said he was very “incredibly distressed” to hear about her experience and pledged to sit down with her to find out what the issue was. He added: “For too long mental health provision for children has been short changed and overstretched.”
Mrs Basu Chaudhuri, who lives in Millhouses in Mr Clegg’s Hallam constituency, told The Star: “This is a hidden problem because people feel unable to come forward to get help.”
John Reid, director of nursing at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said cuts had had an impact on waiting times.