Urgent action needed to address CAMHS waiting lists - Pearse Doherty TD
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin deputy Dáil leader Pearse Doherty TD has said there is a need for urgent action to address waiting lists for Child and Adolescent Mental Health services.
He said that we cannot allow a situation to persist, "where if a child or young person needs care, they are going to face an extended waiting period which puts them and their mental health at a very serious risk".
Teachta Doherty said:
“I want to raise this afternoon the ongoing crisis in Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS) across the State.
“All of us know parents and families struggling to access appropriate care for their children and we have all heard from staff working in the area about drastically inadequate staffing levels which make it impossible to meet the demand for care.
“Figures provided by the HSE show that midway through the year, the waiting list for CAMHS services across the State stood at over 2,700 children and young adults.
“That is not a waiting list even for treatment, but a waiting list for the very first step of an initial assessment. Many young people are waiting a year or more just to be assessed. These are young lives in limbo and these are families at their wits end.
“In some parts of the State waiting lists are absolutely shocking. The CHO1 area - which includes my own constituency of Donegal - had a waiting list of 203 young people at the end of last year.
“CAMHS is simply not meeting the needs of young people who are often in very desperate need immediate care. This is due primarily due to the failure to recruit the staff needed to fully operate CAMHS teams and for some time, around half of the positions in CAMHS teams have been vacant.
“The Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Healthcare outlined earlier this year a raft of measures to improve the recruitment and retention of vital staff. By filling vacancies quickly and improving conditions we can begin to improve services, attract more staff and keep the excellent staff we already have.
“We cannot allow a situation to persist, where if a child or young person needs care; they are going to face an extended waiting period which puts them and their mental health at a very serious risk.
“We need to see dedicated action in the area of mental health to attract new staff, to keep the excellent staff we have and reduce waiting times.
“There were promises made by the government last year that the disastrous staffing gap in CAMHS would be addressed, but it hasn’t been. So I am urging the government to re-commit to doing and to ensure this actually happens without delay.”