Staffing an issue for children’s mental health services

Most recent figures available show 641 children and young adults on waiting lists in Cork.
Staffing an issue for children’s mental health services

CKCH said it is “acutely aware” of the importance of CAMHS, a service for children and young people with moderate to severe mental health disorders.

CORK Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) Mental Health Services has said every measure has been taken by management to acquire the necessary resources, clinical and otherwise, to ensure a quality service for the children of Cork.

It comes amid ongoing concerns about waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), with the most recent figures available showing 641 children and young adults on waiting lists in Cork.

CKCH said it is “acutely aware” of the importance of CAMHS, a service for children and young people with moderate to severe mental health disorders.

A Parliamentary Question (PQ) submitted by Fine Gael’s spokesperson for health and Cork TD Colm Burke asked Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly the reason there were 641 children and young people waiting for CAMHS services by the HSE in Cork as of December, 2021, his plans to reduce this waiting list, and when it is anticipated that this list will be eliminated entirely.

In response to the deputy, Head of Mental Health Services Kevin Morrison said all referrals received to CAMHS are triaged in a timely manner and the referral is either accepted or rejected at that point.

He said that the ability to recruit and retain the community workforce is “an ongoing significant issue” amid long-standing workforce challenges.

“It is acknowledged that the number of people on waiting lists for treatment or assessment exceeds Sláintecare waiting time targets. It is also important to note that Cork CAMHS, in common with all CAMHS nationally, has been experiencing difficulties in recruiting and retaining the services of CAMHS doctors in recent years.

“The commitment to Sláintecare has been reconfirmed in the Programme for Government and the overall budget 2021 has invested in staffing and infrastructure.

“A budget of €250 million has been allocated nationally to address waiting lists and to deliver on waiting list initiatives across the health service. A project team has been established in Community Operations with senior national representation from all Care Groups to oversee the further development and implementation of waiting list initiatives,” he said.

He said recruitment is underway for two additional posts within sector teams, including a senior speech and language therapist in North Lee North, and a CAMHS social worker will be spread across South Lee B and C teams.

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