Staff shortages leave one third of children’s mental health beds closed - Louise O'Reilly TD
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said the recruitment and retention crisis in the area of child and adolescent mental health services is one of the most worrying strands to the crisis gripping the health service.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Nowhere is the recruitment and retention crisis in the health service having a more devastating impact than in the area of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
“In an area where there are 2,700 children waiting to be seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services there is a staggering 13 vacant consultant posts and a shortage of psychiatric nurses.
“Indeed, figures released to me by the HSE through a Parliamentary Question have shown that one third of children’s mental health beds are currently closed due to staff shortages.
"That means that of the 74 beds in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Units across the State only 50 are actually open 'due to staff shortages'.
“The HSE also revealed to me that there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people.
"While demand for the Jigsaw service continues to grow the provision of resources has not kept pace.
“As a result, of the 13 areas where Jigsaw provides services, there are difficulties in meeting the target waiting time of 4 working weeks in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Meath, Donegal, Dublin city, Tallaght, Clondalkin, and North Fingal.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
"Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk.
“We know that when CAMHS and Jigsaw are able to assess and care for young people they do an excellent job with often extremely good results.
"However, currently, this is often not possible because of shortages in funding, neglect of the services by government, and the pervading recruitment and retention crisis in the health service.
“We need to see dedicated action in the area of mental health to attract new staff, to keep the excellent staff we have, to reopen closed beds, and to reduce waiting times. This is quite literally lifesaving treatment and it is currently not readily available for those that need it."