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Child and adolescent mental health services have barely half the staff needed - Louise O’Reilly TD

20 June, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this morning Sinn Fein Health Spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said that information she received through a Parliamentary Question shows that community teams for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) have barely half the necessary staff.

Deputy O’Reilly said:  

“Following on from the shocking news last month of bed closures at the Linn Dara child and adolescent mental health centre due to a shortage of nursing staff, I submitted Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Health to ascertain the staffing levels for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) nationwide.

“In order to get a picture of the seriousness of the situation we decided to compare current staffing levels against what are deemed necessary under ‘A Vision for Change’,  the strategy document which sets out the direction for Mental Health Services in Ireland.

“And while the problems in the health service and the inability of the Government to adequately tackle them are well versed, I was completely shocked to be informed that community teams for delivery of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are operating with just 53 per cent of the staff necessary.

“The importance of the community mental health teams is underlined by the HSE themselves. The HSE National Vision for Change Working Group state:

The mainstay of any mental health service is the sector-based Community Mental Health Team.’

“If the mainstay of any mental health service is the community mental health team then why are the Government failing our young people and putting lives at risk by having barely half the staff that Vision for Change state is necessary to operate them.

“It is of the utmost concern that this is happening at a time when we are more aware than ever of the complexities and difficulties for people who suffer with their mental health. Indeed, only yesterday a Unicef report outlined that Ireland's teen suicide rate is the fourth highest in the EU.

“Added to this is information from the same report showing a serious rise in the self-reporting of mental health issues among adolescents in Ireland – with 22.6% of children aged between 11 and 15 stating they had experienced two or more psychological symptoms more than once a week.

“Unfortunately, the Government is doing little to ensure that when these health issues arise that the necessary staff and services are there to provide the essential support.

“The situation for mental health services is part of the broader problem of recruitment and retention of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare staff. It is in the national interest to resolve the staff recruitment and retention issues in our health service, and in order to do this the key issues such as working conditions, facilities, supports, training opportunities, and pay, as identified by nurses, midwives, and other healthcare professionals, as well as their Trade Unions need to be addressed. If this is not done then this crisis will certainly deepen.”


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