Children forced to wait over a year for mental health assessment – Scanlon

Published on: 16 November 2016

Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon says he’s appalled by new figures which reveal that more than one quarter of children referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) are waiting over one year for an appointment.

According to figures released to Deputy Scanlon through Parliamentary Question, there are 221 children currently on the CAMHS waiting list.  57 have been on the list for more than 12 months.

The Ballymote based Deputy raised this issue in the Dáil on Tuesday evening during his party’s motion on Mental Health Services.

“It is an absolute disgrace that we have children waiting more than a year for essential mental health assessments.  We all know how important early intervention is and yet we have dozens of cases across Sligo and Leitrim where children are being referred by their GPs but not seen by the CAMHS service for months on end.  This is completely unacceptable and points to huge gaps within our mental health service”, he said.

“I wrote to the HSE to question the long waiting lists and it emerged that there is only one child psychiatrist attached to CAMHS in the Sligo-Leitrim area.  Two posts became vacant in July 2015, one was filled for a number of months before becoming vacant again.  A second consultant was appointed at the beginning of October 2016, however the other position still remains vacant.  Despite assurances from the HSE that it’s working to recruit another consultant, I am extremely worried that these staff shortages are having a detrimental impact on services.

“We need to significantly increase staff numbers for child and adolescent community mental health schemes.  At the end of 2015 staffing levels for these teams were just 51% of the recommended levels contained in “A Vision for Change”.  This can only be achieved through increased mental health funding – a minimum annual investment of €35m.

“Fianna Fáil is committed to the full implementation of “A Vision for Change” and has made provision for this in the Confidence and Supply arrangement with Fine Gael.  However, it is essential that the government introduces multi-annual spending for mental health so that services can be properly developed”.

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