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Urgent action needed to address deficiencies in CAMHS services - Pearse Doherty TD

21 February, 2019 - by Pearse Doherty TD


Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin deputy Dáil leader Pearse Doherty TD has said ‘CAMHS services are not meeting the needs of an entire cohort of children and young people who are often in very desperate need of immediate care.’

He said ‘we need to see real action being taken to ensure that CAMHS services are properly resourced.’

Teachta Doherty said:

“Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across the State are in a state of disarray. All of us know parents and families who are struggling to access appropriate care for their children and we are all aware of inadequate staffing levels in CAMHS services that make it impossible to meet the demand for care.

“There are currently in the region of 2,560 children and young adults on CAMHS waiting lists and almost 300 of those children and young people are waiting over a year to be seen. Those figures are absolutely unacceptable.

“Early intervention is crucial when it comes to dealing with mental health issues, but early intervention cannot happen if there are extensive waiting lists and a sheer lack of capacity in the system. 

“CAMHS services are not meeting the needs of an entire cohort of children and young people who are often in very desperate need of immediate care and that is due primarily because of the failure to recruit the staff needed to fully operate CAMHS teams across the State.

“CAMHS services have barely half of the staff identified as part of ‘A Vision for Change’. When ‘A Vision for Change’ was launched it was supposed to a ten-year project, but it is now twelve years’ old and it has ceased to have any meaning because so much of it remains unimplemented.

“In my own area - the CHO 1 area, which covers Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and the North West - there are ten vacant posts in CAMHS and there are a total of 240 young people waiting to be seen. 

“In the CHO 4 that covers Cork and Kerry there are 650 young people on waiting lists, with over 100 children waiting more than a year and it is little wonder that is the case because in the CHO 4 area staffing levels are around 56% of the recommended level. That is an absolutely shocking figure and confirms a serious lack of capacity in services. 

“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 that puts them and their mental health at a very serious risk.

“During Leaders’ Questions in late November, in response to another question by me on this issue the Taoiseach accepted that CAMHS services are not up to scratch in many areas and said that he would ‘be looking for a report on a comparison between resources, staffing and outcomes’ in respect of CAMHS services.

“I want to know if that report has been compiled, what it contains and whether it will be published, because we need to see real action being taken to ensure that CAMHS services are properly resourced."

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