Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte says the Health Minister has serious questions to answer over key vacancies in the Child and Adolescent Community Mental Health Service.  New figures released to Deputy Rabbitte reveal that there are 82 posts, including consultants and clinical nurse specialists, which remain vacant.

“The scale of these vacancies is frightening. Essential consultant, psychologist, nursing and social work posts have still not been filled, with 82 vacancies in the service right across the country – that’s about one in every eight positions currently in place.  Of course this is made worse by the fact that the Government is falling far short of what is required under the A Vision for Change policy. What these figures show is that CAMHS is clearly struggling, with only half of the required staff in place to provide a full service”, said Deputy Rabbitte.

“Successive Ministers have promised to prioritise mental health, but the reality of the situation has been exposed through these figures.  As well additional nursing, social work and psychiatry staff, we need another 8 consultants, 20 clinical nurse specialists and 8 psychologists to meet the 2017 recruitment targets.  These are all posts that were promised but have not been filled.

“This Government is utterly failing to implement the recommendations of A Vision for Change.  Despite the fact that demand for mental health services have increased over the past 6 years, investment in these services has not, and in fact so called ring-fenced funding has been diverted to other areas within the health service.  This principle of robbing Peter to pay Paul cannot continue and the Ministers for Health and Mental Health must take responsibility for the situation.  They can begin by ensuring that these vacancies are filled.

“The CAMHS service is an essential community scheme, which children, teenagers and their parents rely on.  The current gaps in the system must be urgently addressed so that the CAMHS service can be effectively delivered and I am urging Ministers Harris and McEntee to tackle this issue as a matter of priority”.