Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne TD has obtained new information which shows that there has been a 10% surge in the number of children and young people waiting longer than 12 months for an appointment with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

The latest figures from March 2018 show that 386 children are waiting longer than 12 months for a CAMHS appointment, up from 350 in figures Deputy Browne received in February 2018. The overall number of children waiting for an appointment now stands at 2,691, up from 2,579.

Deputy Browne said, “The situation with the CAMHS waiting list is now reaching crisis point. It’s alarming that there has been a 10% increase in the number of children waiting over 12 months for an appointment. The overall waiting list has increased by 4% in the same period of time.

“It’s perfectly clear for all to see that the CAMHS service is simply not able to meet current demand. There will be well over 3,000 children stuck on waiting lists before the end of the year if the current trend continues. This is unacceptable and shows that the Government mental health strategy is floundering.

“These children that are stuck on waiting lists are waiting for an appointment. It could be many more months before they actually get the intervention they need once this appointment has been secured. The evidence shows us that the earlier an intervention occurs the better the outcome for the child. This is of little comfort to the children who are stuck on waiting lists for over a year.

“The Government has repeatedly claimed that it is improving the capacity of CAMHS nationwide. The reality on the ground paints a different picture. The reality is that CAMHS cannot even keep up with the current demand, let alone start to reverse the number of people stuck on waiting lists.

“CAMHS is heading for a major crisis. The number of children stuck waiting over a year for an appointment is now increasing at a rapid pace. The central issue is recruitment. Figures I received last year showed that a staff complement of 1,237 is required for a full CAMHS service. However just 667 were in place in 2017. The Government strategy for CAMHS is clearly failing,” concluded Deputy Browne.