Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health, James Browne has said that unless the major staffing shortages in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) are addressed, the welfare of children and young adults dealing with mental health challenges will continue to be put at risk.
Deputy Browne was commenting after his party received data from the HSE that 47% of all positions committed to under the national Vision for Change strategy remain unfilled.
“Across the State, there are currently 583 positions unfilled in the CAMHS with an additional 141 positions awaiting recruitment in the children’s Mental Health and Intellectual Disability service.
“This gap between planned staffing and actual staffing is nothing new. We raised it a number of months ago, but it seems that no progress has been made in the intervening period, and that is what is concerning me the most.
“The HSE continually say that they are having great difficulty in recruiting appropriate professionals in the areas of psychology, psychiatry and counselling, with severe challenges in regard to specialists in child psychiatry.
“Based on the new census figures, a Vision for Change requires a total staffing level of 12,760. It’s not only in CAMHS where there is a problem with staffing levels.
“Across General Adult, Psychiatry of Old Age and Adult Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, there is an additional WTE staff shortfall of 867.
“The new Minister for Mental Health, Jim Daly must get to grips with this issue as a matter of urgency. There are too many people, and in particular children and young adults, who are in desperate need of specialist support.
“There are countless reports of children and young adults seeking support, especially during out of hours periods, and there is no one there to help or support them.
“The HSE needs to think outside the box, and if necessary, work with NGOs and other organisations to secure professionals to fill the gaps as they continue their recruitment process.
“Continually blaming a lack of staff for patchy service provision is not acceptable,” concluded Browne.