Concerns over child mental health services in south Kerry
HSE reviews files of 1,500 young people amid fears adult doses of medication prescribed
It is understood concerns were raised in recent weeks to the HSE over prescribing patterns and access to appropriate therapeutic interventions concerning some young people in south Kerry. Photograph: PA Wire
Mental health campaigners have called for a national review following concerns that young people may have been prescribed adult doses of medication at child and adolescent mental health services in south Kerry.
The Health Service Executive is reviewing the files of more than 1,500 children and adolescents who used their mental health services in the area amid concerns about the care given in some cases.
A spokeswoman said the “look-back process” was focused solely on the south Kerry area.
“As the review is still under way, we don’t want to pre-empt any findings or recommendations that it may make,” she said.
“However, if the review process needs to be expanded at any point or for any reason, then this will happen.”
It is understood that concerns were raised in recent weeks to the HSE over prescribing patterns and access to appropriate therapeutic interventions concerning some young people in the region.
The Medical Council was also alerted to concerns and has commenced an investigation into a registered doctor, according to sources.
A spokesman for the Medical Council declined to comment except to state: “We are aware of the matter, but we do not comment on individual cases.”
The HSE said it was very important to state that most of the children concerned would have received appropriate care and appropriate clinical interventions.
“However, in light of the raising of concerns, it is important we review all cases from this time period,” Cork Kerry Community Healthcare said in a statement.
“Our priority is to make sure that the young people involved, their families and ourselves are reassured that they received the best possible and most appropriate care,” it said.
A child and adolescent consultant psychiatrist had been in direct contact with any young person or their family where concerns had been raised to date, and this process would continue as the review was undertaken, the HSE said .
“Most of the children whose files are being reviewed will have received appropriate care and clinical interventions. However, we want to apologise sincerely for the worry and concern that this matter will cause,” it said.
It said a clinical team this week began a review of files led by a medical consultant in child psychiatry which was expected to take about 16 weeks.
Mental Health Reform, a coalition of mental health organisations, and the Children’s Rights Alliance said they had wider concerns beyond the south Kerry area.
Fiona Coyle, chief executive of Mental Health Reform, said the reports gave rise to serious concerns as to how such a major clinical oversight went undetected for four years.
“Each and every child who uses mental health services needs to be assured of appropriate care. We are calling on the Minister for Health to put in place a nationwide review to ensure that our services are complying with the highest standards of care.”
Children’s Rights Alliance chief executive Tanya Ward said the fact that authorities were not sure how many children were affected was worrying.
* The HSE has set up a helpline for anyone affected by these issues in south Kerry – 1800-742-800 – which will be available this week.