Sinn Fein TD Mairéad Farrell has called for urgent action to address the continued and damning failures in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS ) which were identified in a report by the Mental Health Commission.
The report revealed that some 140 children had been “lost”, receiving no follow up care for up to two years, including children who had been on anti-psychotic medication resulting in them being not properly monitored.
Deputy Farrell said these steps must be taken without delay to ensure that patients are not left at risk locally.
“The publication of a damning Interim Report into CAMHS has shown that we have now gone way beyond crisis point when it comes to our children’s mental health. Children in Galway deserve better and urgent changes must be delivered to end the risks they face.
“One of the major concerns identified in this report is ‘lost children’ which involves patients with open cases, who have been referred to services but then failed to receive the follow-up appointments they need such as a review of prescriptions or monitoring of medication.
“The Mental Health Commission also found that lack of governance in many areas is contributing to some inefficient and unsafe CAMHS services, including the failure to manage risk, failure to fund and recruit key staff,” she added.
“It is clear that CAMHS is not working and that an urgent strategy is needed to tackle the crisis.
“Sinn Féin have outlined the key steps needed to ensure that CAMHS is reformed to give patients the high-quality and timely care they need. The immediate priority is to locate all the children who have been lost to follow up and to ensure that they have the appropriate mental health supports in place.
“We are calling for ring-fenced funding for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services within the health budget. We are also calling for the development of national standards for monitoring the use of anti-psychotic medications by children and young people. We also need to see an increase in education and training places in higher education to give us a pipeline of staff for our CAMH services. This will ensure safe staffing levels are delivered.
“The solutions are there if the political will is there. The government must now urgently consider Sinn Féin’s proposals. Children in Galway and across the state must get access to high-quality mental health support when they need it, without delay or excuses. Sinn Féin in government would prioritise delivering change in our healthcare system, so that mental health services are fit for purpose.”