Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney has warned that the number of children being admitted to adult units is likely to increase because the Government has not provided the necessary funds to ensure there are enough places for children.
In 2013 there were 91 admissions to adult units, relating to 83 children. The length of stay varied between discharges on the same day of admission to over 142 days. One in five children stayed in an adult unit for more than 10 days, Deputy Keaveney said.
“As we enter the 10th year on from A Vision for Change unfortunately we are still a long way off realising important milestones set down in the policy. The Mental Health Commission said the Government’s implementation of A Vision for Change has been slow and inconsistent. There is also likely to be an increase in the number of children being admitted to adult setting this year.
“The Government simply have not provided enough funding to ensure there are an appropriate number of places available for children needing admission for mental health issues.“Fianna Fáil is deeply committed to the full implementation of A Vision for Change. We are very concerned that progress on implementing this important policy has been slow. The Government has also consistent broken its promise in the Programme for Government to have an annual ring-fenced €35 million funding for community health services. The funding has regularly been plundered to plug other gaps in the health budget,” he said.
“A Vision for Change is the model by which we shift the delivery of mental health services from old-style institutional care to a more modern community based service. This is now very widely supported and seen as the best way to proceed. But we have simply have not made enough progress.“According to the HSE Fifth Annual Child and Adolescent Mental Health Report 2012-2013, the number of child and adolescent in-patient HSE beds in 2013 was 60. But not all 60 beds were fully in use.
The number of beds for children and teenagers wasn’t consistent and by the end of December 2013 there were 48 operational beds out of the 60 provided. This is why we need to seriously invest and ramp-up the number of beds available for children.“Almost 10 years on from the launch of A Vision for Change we need a renewed commitment to its full implementation and real delivery. To do anything less would be a complete failure of the children in need of essential services,” he concluded.