Ombudsman for Children expresses ‘shock and horror’ at CAMHS report

Muldoon said there is a sense of shame in under staffed and under resourced service

Waiting lists of up to two years sometimes for children ‘who really need these services’, says ombudsman. Photograph: iStock

Waiting lists of up to two years sometimes for children ‘who really need these services’, says ombudsman. Photograph: iStock

 

The Ombudsman for Children Niall Muldoon has expressed “absolute shock and horror” at the report into children’s mental health services in Kerry.

CAMHS has been notoriously bad for taking people in to meet them, he told Newstalk Breakfast. There were waiting lists of up to two years sometimes for children “who really need these services.

“These families were so let down. There must be a fear there about going into any CAMHS service which is going to do a huge disservice for children and young people.

“There’s a real sense of shame and lack of trust in regard to that. On a national scale what it shows is that we’ve got to take a look at our individual CAMHS services. There are 72 around the country, there should be over 100, so obviously we’re severely under staffed and under resourced, we’ve also under invested in mental health for children.”?

Mr Muldoon added that he had been struck by the lack of governance and support for the service and that individuals had not been held to account.

“There was no case management, there was no data protection, there was no shared clinical diaries so it really seemed like a free for all as regards individuals taking the rules and ignoring the rules.”

Problems

Meanwhile, Kerry GP Dr Gary Stack has warned that a “tsunami of problems” have been deferred because of deficiencies in child mental health services in the county.

“We’re seeing it through schools that lockdown has had a major effect on a very small subset of children, but it has had a major effect on them – this is a tsunami of problems that have been deferred. “The psychological aspect has not been addressed either,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Dr Stack said that GPs in the county would have been aware of the difficulties of getting access to CAMHS and that many times referrals were not accepted. He added it “would be the biggest issue” when patients were not seen by a psychiatric team, and often the only option was to refer the patient to an emergency department.

There were no beds available in Kerry for a child that was suicidal, he said.

The existing problems being experienced by children and their parents were being exacerbated by what had happened with CAMHS. An existing problem had been added to and additional harm had been caused in some cases, he said. But the underlying problem still remained.

There had been very poor support for the doctor involved and there needed to be a thorough examination of supports in high stress environments.

GPs did not have the specialist training to assess and prescribe medication for these cases. It was a very specialised area for which psychiatric support was also required.

“This is a major problem,” he said.