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Children still being placed in adult mental health units due to lack of services – Buckley

21 June, 2017 - by Pat Buckley TD

Sinn Féin deputy Mental Health spokesperson Pat Buckley TD has criticised the continued use of adult mental health units to treat children. He said that a lack of adequately staff community and inpatient Child and Adolescent services was putting huge pressure on the services and leading to continue high rates of admissions to adult wards.

The Cork East TD was responding to replies from the HSE which showed only 53% of community Child and Adolescent Mental Health positions promised under A Vision for Change were filled while an average of only 70% of children admitted as inpatients where placed in age appropriate care in the first 4 four months of the year.

Deputy Buckley said:

“Children have a right to be treated in age appropriate settings by dedicated professional trains specifically in Child and Adolescent care. Children are being failed by a lack of resources which has led to shortages in community and in-patients services for this age group.

“Vision for Change recommended that 100 beds should be in place for children; at present, we have 63 beds, with 11 recently coming under threat of closure in Linn Dara in Cherry Orchard. Without enough dedicated beds, the services are essentially forced to find a place for these children in public adult units, private care or even abroad.

“Many children who are being admitted should never have had to face that possibility. Community based early intervention services were a cornerstone of what was proposed in the Vision for Change document. These services should, when properly resourced, be able to significantly reduce the need for in-patient care and any re-admission. The now 10 year old reform plan recommended, based on population, that the state should have roughly 1200 whole time equivalent positions in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams in the community. Just 53 per cent of those positions are currently filled.

“Recent data from the HSE indicates 2,520 children and young people on waiting lists for an initial assessment for mental health services in February 2017, an increase of 44 per cent on the same period last year.

“The state is failing these young people who are suffering with mental health issues. This is not only unacceptable in terms of the problems it is causing these children today, but in the greater effect of this failure in terms of their future. Early intervention is the key to preventing long term, enduring mental ill health, and helping young people to achieve their potential and enjoy their lives. We have to focus on delivering the services they need to not just treat but to prevent mental ill health where possible.” 

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