Wednesday 19 September 2018

Children face 'shocking' wait for mental health care in Cork and Kerry

It is "shocking and disappointing" that so many children in Cork and Kerry are being forced to wait long periods of time to be seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. That is the view of Kiskeam's Deputy Michael Moynihan (FF) who said that 747 children and adolescents in total in both counties are waiting, with 120 of them waiting longer than 18 months.

"There is a serious service gap in the Cork and Kerry area. Three in 10 children waiting across the country are in these two counties including 83 per cent of all those waiting longer than 18 months. There has been a long-standing crisis in CAMHS provision in these counties and the HSE is clearly still failing to address it," he said.

He pointed out that the central issue with the latest growing list lay with recruitment. "Figures my party received late last year showed that a staff complement of 1,237 is required for a full community CAMHS service but yet just 657 were in place in 2017. This gap between what is needed and what is in place is even more pronounced in Cork and Kerry where less than half of all posts have been filled to date," he said.

Deputy Moynihan said that until the HSE and the Government "get its act together" in terms of recruiting the necessary staff such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses and counsellors, these waiting lists will grow and grow.

On Wednesday, the President of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, Dr John Hillery, addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Future of Mental care on the issue of recruitment and retention of psychiatrists and trainee psychiatrists to Mental Health Services.

Dr Hillery said the College has closely examined the factors adversely affecting recruitment and retention to psychiatry in Ireland and adapted its training to maximise its attraction for trainees.

As a result, the trainee experience in psychiatry is highly positive as evidenced by the annual Medical Council survey which for two years running has seen psychiatry scoring highest of all 13 training bodies - with a particularly high sub-score for supervision, assessment, and feedback.

Dr Hillery said: "Regrettably we still face significant challenges when it comes to both filling training posts in Psychiatry and also in getting specialists to stay and fill Consultant posts. This is an issue across medicine in Ireland. We know a high percentage of new medical graduates intend to go overseas, drawn by a multitude of factors including a search for adventure; peer pressure; perception of better working conditions in some accessible countries; perception of better career opportunities in some accessible countries matched by a perception of poor health service conditions and career opportunities in our own country" Dr Hillery said: "It is hard to work out why many of the simple recommendations in these reports remain unimplemented as they have been well enunciated for many years."