‘Lives may hang in the balance’ as Cork children forced to wait months for services

‘Lives may hang in the balance’ as Cork children forced to wait months for services

The waiting lists for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the Cork/Kerry region are almost twice as bad as any other region in the country, it has been revealed.

Almost 650 children are awaiting mental health services in the Cork/Kerry region — close to double the waiting lists in any other Community Health Organisation (CHO) across the country.

In CHO Area 4, the Cork/Kerry region, almost 200 of these children have been waiting for more than 12 months along with 94 who have been waiting more than 18 months for services.

CHO Area 8, which consists of Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Longford, Meath, and Louth, is in second place in terms of waiting lists with 358 children awaiting treatment.

However, just seven of these children have been left waiting more than a year for services.

The figures were obtained by Cork TD Pat Buckley.

Fellow Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire called for immediate investment in CAMHS to ensure children are seen in a timely manner.

“There are 646 children on the waiting list and 192 of those waiting for over a year,” Mr Ó Laoghaire said.

“These are vulnerable adolescents and children with real mental health issues, whose lives may hang in the balance.

“With mental health treatment, every day counts — and that is even more true for young people, where early intervention has been proven to have great success. We need immediate investment.

“We need to end all caps on overtime and recruitment, and ensure all units have adequate staff to cover services throughout the year.”

Mr Ó Laoghaire also hit out at waiting times for psychology services — which are separate to CAMHS — in the Cork/Kerry region.

The latest figures, obtained from the HSE by the Cork TD, revealed that almost 200 people — the majority of whom are children — have been waiting more than a year for psychology services in the South Lee area alone.

Cork/Kerry Community Healthcare admitted that people in Ballincollig/Bishopstown can experience wait times of around 17 months, while other areas are averaging wait times of around six or nine months for psychology services.

“It is unacceptable that people who could be facing a very severe crisis could be waiting six months, nine months, or even 17 months for psychology services, and up to six months in some areas for psychiatry,” Mr O Laoghaire said.

Psychiatry services in the region are also subject to waiting lists, with some people forced to wait more than six months.

The health service recently said that increased waiting lists in areas across Ireland are due to the availability of specialist CAMHS clinicians, current vacancies, and difficulties in recruiting, saying that initiatives are underway to address capacity.

The HSE also said the need to prioritise urgent cases may impact on those that are considered by a clinician to be less severe.

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