1 February 2023
By Tom Collins
Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has expressed his concern at the significant waiting lists for CAHMS in the Cork and Kerry area.
Speaking in the Dáil this week, he also said that it was vitally important that any review also take in to account children who should have been admitted to CAMHS but who were refused.
“The situation in Cork and Kerry is as bad and perhaps worse than in most places. There are 857 children waiting, the largest number in any CHO. Some 296 children have been waiting longer than a year. In recent days, we heard worrying news from SIPTU about serious staffing issues at the Aislinn inpatient unit at Bessborough where only 58% of nursing posts are filled. This has a knock-on affect on the staff who are trying to plug the gaps and the pressure that puts on them. In such circumstances, it is hard to blame some of the staff for wondering about their future. These staffing levels have an impact on the services that are delivered.”
“I always make the point in these debates that these numbers are far from abstract. Children coming forward are under severe pressure and their families may be at breaking point. To get into CAMHS, a child’s circumstances must be serious.”
“The review should not look only at open cases because there are children who were inappropriately refused access to CAMHS and others who were inappropriately discharged. I am not making that point to apportion blame – when there are huge pressures on the system cases must be triaged and decisions made – but there are children with serious mental health problems who are being refused access because of the numbers involved. I have heard an instance of the family of a child who was self-harming being told that their child was inadequately suicidal to be admitted to CAMHS. That case involved a child who was in an absolute crisis. Any review must not only take into account the children who were on the books with CAMHS but also those who did not get in to the services because of the pressure on the system and those who were discharged even though their condition was far from resolved.”
“Much of this comes back to staffing, as identified in the motion. The challenge is serious and we must do an awful lot better because our children and many others across the State are under unbelievable pressure. They find this very frustrating and their families are heartbroken trying to access services in which there are delays.”