Thursday 26 April 2018

Children wait a year to see psychiatrist

More than 200 children and adolescents across the country are waiting for longer than a year to see a psychiatrist.

Figures supplied by the Health Service Executive (HSE) show that 217 were on a list for 12 months or more while another 299 were waiting six months to a year.

There are 377 on a list for between three and six months, 816 between one and three months while 1,617 were in the queue for a month.

The figures reveal continuing problems in the services for younger age groups with mental illness which were neglected for years, forcing children to be admitted to adult hospitals.

However, while significant improvements have been made they are still not meeting demand. The HSE said in 2009 it provided an additional 14 beds -- six in St Vincent's, Fairview, Dublin and eight interim beds in Cork.

It almost doubled its mental health bed capacity for children and adolescents, bringing the total number of in-patient beds to 30. A recruitment process was under way in May to increase bed capacity from 12 to 20.

A new 20-bed, child and adolescent acute in-patient unit at Merlin Park in Galway opened in January 2011. The unit has 12 beds operational and plans to be at full capacity by next month.

The plan is to have 69 beds for this age group by early 2012, a four-fold increase in capacity since 2006, according to a parliamentary reply to Wicklow TD, Billy Timmins.

Outside hospital there are now 50 mental health teams for children and adolescents although they are still not fully staffed in several cases.

Figures show adolescents in the 15 years of age group are most likely to be attending community mental health services, followed by children aged 10 to 14 years.

Adolescents aged 16 to 17 years make up 23.4pc of caseload.

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