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Children spent 217 days in beds in adult psychiatric units due to staff shortages


Many of the age-appropriate beds for children were closed due to staff shortages.

Many of the age-appropriate beds for children were closed due to staff shortages.

Many of the age-appropriate beds for children were closed due to staff shortages.

Children in mental illness distress had to spend 217 days in adult psychiatric hospitals last year, mostly due to a lack of appropriate beds for young people, new figures from the HSE have shown.

A significant number of beds in inpatient child and adolescent facilities have had to be closed due to staffing shortages.

Figures from the HSE show that up to the end of last year, children with mental illness who needed to be admitted spent 15,327 bed days in these age-appropriate facilities, but 217 were spent in adult psychiatric units.

Twenty children were admitted to adult units last year, which is a reduction on previous years.

The HSE said the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provides a specialist mental health service to those aged up to 18, who have reached the threshold for a diagnosis of moderate to severe mental health disorder that requires the input of a multidisciplinary mental health teams.

The conditions include moderate to severe anxiety disorders, moderate to severe depression, bipolar affective disorder, psychosis, moderate to severe eating disorders and self-harm.

At the end of January this year, CAMHS was providing care to 20,000 young people nationally and with 225,000 appointments annually.

At that point nationally, there were 51 open beds in inpatient units for children and adolescents out of a total number
of 72.

In Linn Dara, Dublin, 13 beds were operational and 11 were closed due to staffing issues. All beds were open in Eist Linn in Cork.

In Merlin Park Galway, 14 beds were open out of 20 and four beds closed due to staffing issues.

Another two beds could not be used due to staffing and recruitment issues.

At St Vincent’s in Fairview, Dublin, eight beds were operational out of 12, with staffing issues leading to four bed closures.

The HSE acknowledged that in exceptional circumstances it is necessary, where there is a clear clinical imperative, to admit a small number of children to adult units for the shortest time possible.

Children are admitted to adult units only after efforts to place them in child and adolescent inpatient units are unsuccessful due to capacity or clinical needs.

All admissions of young people under the age of 18 are notified to the Mental Health Commission in accordance with regulations.

All such admissions are also notified to a national CAMHS lead manager within mental health.

The HSE said many young people with mild to moderate mental health difficulties can be supported at primary care level without needing to access specialist mental health services.

Primary care services include GPs, Jigsaw and other NGO service providers, Primary Care Psychology Services and Counselling in Primary Care (CiPC), which is available to those over 18.

Jigsaw is funded by the HSE to provide early intervention mental health services that focuses on the needs of 12- to 25-year-olds.

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