Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Chief Officer Michael Fitzgerald has said recommendations following a report into the alleged overmedication of young people who attended South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) will be implemented “as quickly as we can”.
The report was published yesterday and was described as a “damning indictment” of the mental-health service by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Mr Fitzgerald, chief officer of the regional Community Healthcare group, which has responsibility for HSE mental-health services in Kerry, accepted the report made clear that the high standard of care young people and their families need “did not happen in a large number of cases”.
He also hailed the dignity of the families and young people who took part in the review’s formulation.
The report found that 240 children did not receive the standard of care they should have received, and found proof of significant harm to 46 children. Significant harm in these cases included effects such as weight gain; sedation; elevated blood pressure; and galactorroea, which is the production of breast milk, in children who attended services between July 2016 and April of last year.
The HSE review looked into 1,322 files, while it also found that there were missing files, with proof of two missing referrals and 10 case files. Concerns about the doctor in question were first raised in 2018, and no proof was found that the issues raised were addressed. The Taoiseach has called for a nationwide review of all Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
“As Chief Officer of the organisation, I apologise sincerely to the young people and their families for this,” Mr Fitzgerald has said following the report’s publication. “I want to reassure the young people and their families that we have taken on board the 35 recommendations in the report, and will implement them as quickly as we can.
“In publishing the report, it is very important to us that we thank the young people and their families involved in the review. I attended some of the meetings with the young people myself, so that I could hear about the experience they had with our service first hand and also to offer them a formal apology.
“The staff involved in the extensive review process have been humbled by the dignity shown by the young people and their families, by the patience they have had with the process and also by the respect they have shown for our staff. It is clear to us that we let people down and we have a lot of work to do to rebuild trust in the service, and this work has already begun.”