Fianna Fáil bye-election candidate for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has criticized the government for failing to bring an end to the practice of admitting children to adult psychiatric wards.

Mr Aylward made the comments after unearthing figures that show over 12% of all child admissions to adult wards in 2013 occurred in Kilkenny.

Mr Aylward said, “The practice of admitting children to adult psychiatric wards has been sharply criticized by countless professionals and experts. Research clearly shows that adult wards do not offer a suitable environment to cater for children who need access to mental health services.

“Unfortunately the government does not seem to be taking on board expert opinion. The government is allowing this shameful practice to continue and there is no indication as to when it will end.

“Fianna Fáil has obtained figures that show over 12% of cases of children being admitted to adult wards in 2013 occurred in Kilkenny. This is simply unacceptable and it shows that children in Carlow and Kilkenny are being deprived of access to suitable mental health services.

“I have spoken to the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney TD on this issue. He has raised the matter in the Dáil with Minister Kathleen Lynch on my behalf. Fianna Fáil asked Minister Lynch to provide a date for the HSE to cease the practice of admitting children to adult wards. Unfortunately the Minister failed to outline any such timeline.

“The practice of admitting children to adult wards is archaic and should be stopped without delay. It only serves to undermine the treatment of children who need access to adequate mental health services. Adult wards are specifically designed to treat adults and do not have the facilities or resources to cater for children.

“The government’s record on mental health already makes for grim reading. Services are underfunded and they cannot keep up with growing demand. Waiting lists continue to grow while services appear to be deteriorating further. When you factor in the continued practice of admitting children to adult wards it clearly demonstrates that the government is failing to get to grips with the mental health crisis.”