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Child and adolescent mental health teams operating with only 56.1% of necessary staff - Louise O’Reilly TD

20 February, 2018 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said that it is a disgrace that child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) still have barely half the necessary staff despite the issue being raised with Minister Harris last June.

Speaking this morning, Deputy O’Reilly said:   

“Last June I submitted a number of Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Health given the worrying developments regarding bed closures are at the Linn Dara child and adolescent mental health centre and reports from a number of parents in Fingal that CAMHS teams were drastically understaffed in the area.

“The responses I got from the Minister for Health and the HSE were extremely worrying. At that time CAMHS teams were operating with just 53% of the staff necessary under a ‘A Vision for Change’,  the strategy document which sets out the direction for Mental Health Services in Ireland. 

“A lot of talk followed about addressing these shortfalls, especially after the Seanad Public Consultation Committee Report on Children’s Mental Health Services found that the increase in mental health problems and in child population had not been matched by an increase in services. 

“Therefore, it was shocking to learn that by December 2017 the HSE responded to a PQ outlining how the staffing levels for CAMHS has only increased by 3.1% to 56.1% of the total staff needed.

“Only a number of days ago the Children’s Rights Alliance revealed that nearly 7,000 children under the age of 17 were waiting for a community based psychology appointment at the end of last July — with one third of those waiting for more than a year. 

“It is impossible for these children to get the help they need when “A Vision for Change” recommends that youth mental health services be fully staffed at 1,047 whole time equivalent staff, yet as of December CAMHS teams had just 587 whole time equivalent doctors and nurses. 

“That this is happening at a time when we are more aware than ever of the complexities and difficulties for people, particularly the young, who suffer with their mental health further compounds this state of affairs."

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