15% increase in CAMHS waiting lists putting young at grave risk - Pat Buckley TD
Sinn Féin Mental Health spokesperson Pat Buckley has said that waiting lists for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are completely unacceptable and putting children and young people at grave risk.
He was responding to a Barnardos report launched today on waiting lists for young people in public health services. The report found that there has been a 15% increase in CAMHS waiting lists since last September with almost 14% waiting for in excess of 12 months for an initial appointment.
Deputy Buckley said;
"We know that CAMHS services are in crisis. We have heard the stories of parents and families struggling to find appropriate care for their young loved ones."We have heard from staff in the services of how they are over worked, under staffed and incapable of meeting the demand on the services. But these figures really underline the cost this crisis in having on so many young lives.
"2,691 young people at least are on waiting lists for CAMHS, not for treatment but for the very first step of an initial assessment.
"Approximately 376 of those young people have been waiting 12 months or more just to be assessed. These are young lives in limbo.
"My own area covered by CHO 4 is noted as a 'black spot' in the report, with 208 children waiting more than a year. That is scandalous and damning. We cannot continue to allow these lists to grow and more children be put at risk.
"An immediate emergency response is needed, particularly in areas where the problem is at its worst. The HSE have said they are running a targeted recruitment drive but when Consultants are resigning in numbers due to the terrible conditions experienced then we need more than normal measures to be put in place to fill positions.
"The Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care have outline a raft of measures to improve recruitment and retention of vital staff. Sinn Féin have long been pushing for these reforms also.
"We need to open up vacancies to doctors from jurisdictions which currently are not available.
"We need to address pay and conditions issues for staff as well as cost of living issues like housing and transport which for many workers are beyond a level which is affordable. By filling vacancies quickly and improving conditions we can begin to improve the service and attract more staff and keep the excellent staff we already have.
"I am also calling on the Minister and the HSE to prioritise areas like CHO 4 encompassing Kerry and Cork where demand is most stark and the supply of services is falling far short."