The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is severely understaffed with children not assured of access to safe mental health services.
Mental Health Services Inspector Dr Susan Finnerty has this afternoon published her final report on the State’s CAMHS.
In her report, Dr Finnerty warns that cannot currently reassure all parents in Ireland that their “children have access to a safe, effective and evidence-based mental health service”.
She notes that long waiting lists for mental health services are causing “profound” distress and frustration to parents who “expressed concern at how their child deteriorated while waiting for an assessment”.
She finds that many parents believe they cannot access appropriate help and support until children reach a crisis situation and they feel they have to “battle with services before help is provided”.
Her report includes 49 recommendations – and calls on the HSE to overhaul the way CAMHS are delivered around Ireland.
It notes that child mental services around the country are severely understaffed – with the vast majority of teams across the country significantly below recommended staffing levels.
Speaking as the report was published today, Dr Finnerty said the current structure is making the staffing crisis worse.
“I believe that the HSE should seriously look at the way CAMHS is being delivered,” she said.
“We have 75 teams, plus six specialist teams, and we are trying to recruit people to fill 11 whole-time equivalents on each of those teams and, at the moment, that is not possible.
“We can’t do it because of the shortage of staff and the recruitment problems.”
Her report also notes that CAMHS does not have a proper IT system for monitoring patients.
It notes that most services across the country had no IT system that manages appointments or maintains clinical files.
Dr Finnerty said the digital system is the worst in the world...
“I mean in the report you can see a graph of how ready we were for clinical trials to be electronic and we are not ready at all.
“We are one of the worst countries.”