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PURPOSE: As part of an evaluation of the nationally mandated Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) "transformation" in one foundation NHS trust, the authors explored the experiences of mental health staff involved in the transformation. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: The authors employed a qualitative methodology and followed an ethnographic approach. This included observation of mental health staff involved in the transformation and informal interviews (80 h). The authors also undertook semi-structured interviews with key staff members (n = 16). Data were analysed thematically. FINDINGS: The findings fall into three thematic areas around the transformation, namely (1) rationale; (2) implementation; and (3) maintenance. Staff members were supportive of the rationale for the changes, but implementation was affected by perceived poor communication, resulting in experiences of unpreparedness and de-stabilisation. Staff members lacked time to set up the necessary processes, meaning that changes were not always implemented smoothly. Recruiting and retaining the right staff, a consistent challenge throughout the transformation, was crucial for maintaining the service changes. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: There is little published on the perceptions and experiences of mental health workforces around the CAMHS transformations across the UK. This paper presents the perceptions of mental health staff, whose organisation underwent significant "transformational" change. Staff demonstrated considerable resilience in the change process, but better recognition of their needs might have improved retention and satisfaction. Time for planning and training would enable staff members to better develop the processes and resources necessary in the context of significant service change. Developing ways for services to compare changes they are implementing and sharing good practice around implementation with each other are also vital.

Original publication




Journal article


J Health Organ Manag

Publication Date





66 - 78


Child mental health services, Health care professionals, Health services research, Organisational innovation, Qualitative research, Service change, Adolescent, Attitude of Health Personnel, Child, Health Personnel, Health Workforce, Humans, Mental Health Services, Qualitative Research