7 December 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Sinn Féin TD for East Cork, Pat Buckley has criticised the waiting time for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across the country which as of the end of November stood at 2,948.
In response to a parliamentary question submitted by Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne, figures from the HSE have revealed that the numbers of young people waiting for access to critical, community based mental health services have not dropped below 2,500 over the past 5-year period.
Deputy Buckley said:
“Waiting lists to access community health care in this country have gone from bad to worse. Quite often, the Government use Covid-19 as a smokescreen for the inefficiency of many services offered by the HSE.
“In the latest figures we received to a parliamentary question, it has been revealed that the number of children waiting for preliminary CAMHS appointments hasn’t dropped below 2,500 over the past 5-year period.
“At the end of 2017 there were 2,513 children and teens waiting; by Q3 of 2021 this figure had actually risen to 2,948.
“There are also geographic discrepancies between CHO areas. For example, here in Cork which is in CHO 4 area, the number of children waiting stands at 583.
“The objectives set out in ‘A Vision for Change’, our national mental health strategy published last year, will not be implemented unless the Government put their money where their mouth is and invest significantly in CAMHS services.
“There are only 6 inpatient CAMHS units across the whole state, and they are in urban centres only with 4 in Galway and Cork and two more in Dublin. As recently as October, there was a grand total of 72 inpatient beds across these 6 sites.
“The numbers of children waiting for access to CAMHs services being so consistently high for 5 years at the very least, exposes that whatever additional funding or resources have been allocated to the service simply haven’t worked. Children and teenagers are still unable they access the essential services they need.
“In Ireland, mental health spending accounts for just 6% of the overall health budget. Mental Health Reform Ireland called for a minimum of 8% proportion to be directed into our mental health services which have been historically underfunded. They called for €85mn. for next year’s budget.
“The Governments shameful announcement of an additional investment of just €24 million falls short of what is needed to combat the incoming tsunami of mental health issues that our services cannot respond to, for children and adults alike. What was a broken system has been aggravated throughout the pandemic.
“Sinn Féin’s alternative budget would have provided €114mn. for next year with 276 additional psychologists to boost CAMHS over 18months.
“The children of Ireland deserve better. Tá sé in am don athrú.