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Children and young people at risk as mental health services in turmoil – O’Reilly

16 April, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said the inability of the government to address the crisis in children’s and youth mental health services show they are not fit to run the health service.

The Fingal TD also called for increased and targeted investment to address the staffing crisis and ease soaring waiting lists.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have been in a state of crisis for some time now, we have witnessed this in the closure of beds at the children’s mental health unit in Linn Dara last year and, more recently this week, we have seen reports that children in Wexford are being accommodated in adult psychiatric units.

“Despite commitments to improve mental health services by this government, the situation for children and young people has regressed; waiting lists for services have increased, early intervention is non-existent in areas, there is a lack of beds and capacity across the State, and youth mental health services are crippled by staffing shortages.

“Figures released to me by the HSE show that the staffing deficit in CAMHS teams is so severe that the services need at least €40m investment just to address crippling staff shortages.

“Despite significant population growth over the past decade, CAMHS teams are operating with barely half the staff they need (56%) under a ‘Vision for Change’.

“To put this into context, there is a shortfall of 513 clinical posts in CAMHS and more than two in five posts are unfilled, including in psychiatry and psychology, nurse specialists in mental health, social worker posts, and therapy posts.

“This means thousands of children and young people are not receiving the mental health supports they need within the appropriate timeframes.

“This situation is the result of severe mismanagement of both mental health services and the health service by Fine Gael and it will take a huge effort to reverse the damage which they have done through policy failures.

“The only way out of this situation is increased and targeted investment to recruit and retain staff and to increase capacity – only these measures will ease soaring waiting lists for access to CAHMS services and save lives.” 

Note: Please see attached the PQ on which this statement is based

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