Bed closures and staff shortages amid claims young people failed by "crisis" in Cork's mental health services  

Bed closures and staff shortages amid claims young people failed by "crisis" in Cork's mental health services  
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MORE than a quarter of specialist inpatient beds for young people with mental health difficulties in Cork are closed because of staffing issues, leading to claims of a crisis in mental health services here.

Six of the twenty beds at the HSE’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Eist Linn unit in Blackrock are currently closed due to “capacity issues”, the HSE has said.

The HSE has failed to recruit two non-consultant hospital doctors and the equivalent of 1.2 whole-time consultants to address the issues.

Eist Linn is an inpatient facility, typically attended by young people, aged between 12 and 18 years, who are experiencing symptoms such as severe low mood, high levels of anxiety and depression or significant eating problems.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said there are significant capacity issues across mental health services that need to be addressed, but Cork has particular problems. Of the 56 beds in the three other specialised inpatient facilities, just two beds in St Joseph’s Hospital, Dublin, are closed.

“There is a crisis in mental health services in Cork. Cork seems to be particularly affected,” he said.

Fianna Fáil has called on the government to meet its commitments to mental health services and give greater support to CAMHS.

A spokesperson for the HSE said that they are trying to fill vacancies in the service, but that capacity is also affected by the support needs of certain patients.

The HSE said unit has a functional operating capacity of 18 - it's listed as a 20-bed unit - but just 14 beds are currently available.

"There are a number of consultant and NCHD vacancies at Eist Linn throughout last year and this year to date. Capacity has ranged depending on medical personnel available and clinical presentation. In other words, capacity can be reduced not just because of staffing levels, but because of the support needed by patients," the HSE said.

"Extensive efforts are underway to recruit, but unfortunately there is a European wide shortage of suitably qualified CAMHS consultants. All efforts are being taken within Cork Kerry Community Healthcare to recruit and retain consultant psychiatrists, however, this is not always possible. All avenues continue to be explored to recruit consultants in a permanent, temporary or locum arrangement," they said.

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