Nearly 2,700 young people waiting for mental health appointments

State should use private sector support to reduce waiting lists if necessary, says FF

Fianna Fáil has called on Minister of State for Mental Health to ‘get to the root of the problem’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Fianna Fáil has called on Minister of State for Mental Health to ‘get to the root of the problem’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The State’s failure to adequately resource and implement its Child and Adolescent Mental Service (CAMHS) “will be a stain on its legacy,” Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on Mental Health James Browne has said.

Mr Browne was commenting after it emerged that as of March this year there were 2,691 children and young adults waiting for the HSE to provide them with an appointment, including 386 who are waiting longer than 12 months.

“Waiting times and lists are getting longer and there are major service gaps in certain parts of the county, such as Cork and Kerry,” he said.

“Telling GPs to refer children and young adults to Emergency Departments (ED) is wholly inappropriate. In all too many EDs, there is no access to CAMHS professionals, and it is not fair on the patients and their families.”

He said that “for the past two years, we have consistently heard from the HSE that they are having trouble in terms of recruiting and retaining mental health professionals”.

He said: “The net result of all these ever lengthening waiting lists is children and young adults who are at risk being denied access to professional medical advice. This is simply not acceptable at a time when everyone is talking, quite rightly, about the need for all people to talk openly and honestly about their mental health.”

He called on Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly to “get to the root of the problem, and if necessary secure private sector support to reduce these lists and waiting times. If the Government doesn’t, it will go down as one of the worst failings in our country’s history.”

Figures supplied to Mr Browne by the HSE’s Mental Health Services disclosed that of the 2,691 children and young adults awaiting CAMHS appointments 1,369 were waiting for up to three months, 470 for up to six months, 241 up to nine months, 225 up to 12 months, 178 for up to 15 months, 80 for up to 18 months, and 128 for over 18 months.