Government committed to compensating those affected by Camhs controversy

Recent report was ‘disturbing and devastating’ says Minister for State Mary Butler

The Government has committed to a "non adversarial scheme" for compensation for the children, young people and families affected by a report into child and adolescent mental health services in south Kerry, Minister of State for Mental Health Mary Butler has said.

Ms Butler said she will be working with her department, the HSE and the Attorney General “to ensure that the details of such a scheme are confirmed without delay”.

Speaking during the debate on a Sinn Féin motion calling for the protection of children’s mental health services, Ms Butler told the Dáil that the Government had committed to a non adversarial scheme earlier on Tuesday.

A review published by the HSE last week examined the treatment of more than 1,300 young people who attended the South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) over a four-year period.

The review found that hundreds of children received “risky” treatment from a doctor and significant harm was caused to 46 of them. The risks involved in the treatment by the doctor included sleepiness, dulled feelings, slowed thinking and serious weight gain and distress.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there will be a full nationwide audit of compliance with Camhs operational guidelines by all teams while Tánaiste Leo Varadkar previously said it would be necessary to provide compensation to many families affected.

Gardaí are also considering whether to begin a criminal investigation into the revelations.

Ms Butler said the revelations in the south Kerry report were “disturbing and devastating” and work was underway to implement all recommendations made.

She said the HSE has met with 198 of the 240 young people affected and their families to discuss the deficits in care they received and provide them with the necessary services and supports.

“The HSE apologised to each individual at these meetings and subsequently in writing for any harm caused,” she said.

Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward said while he welcomed the compensation scheme, lessons had to be learned from previous situations such as the CervicalCheck controversy.

“It didn’t work out the way everyone thought it was going to work out and this non adversarial scheme became very adversarial,” he said.

“We need to learn from mistakes and make sure that this is a comprehensive scheme that makes it easy to access for all of the families involved.”

His party's health spokesperson David Cullinane said "time and again we see scandal in our healthcare services and time and again we see no action, no accountability, no consequences and no change".

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said the primary concern of people who access Camhs was “trust”, and this was “the most important thing”.

He said trust was the central axis between medical professionals and children and the situation in south Kerry was the “most serious breaches” of that trust.

The Dublin Mid-West TD said any review of the services has to be “completely independent” of the HSE.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

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