THERE were 713 young people waiting for treatment with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Cork and Kerry in December, according to figures obtained by The Echo.
A spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) said there is “regret that young people cannot always access the CAMHS service as quickly as they, or we, would like”.
Figures from December, 2022, show six children and adolescents with mental health difficulties on the waiting list were waiting for over two years for treatment — five in the South Lee 3 area, and one in North Cork.
There were 74 children and adolescents waiting between 18 and 24 months in three areas — South Lee 1, South Lee 3, and North Cork.
Some 136 were waiting between 12 and 18 months across seven of the eight CAMHS areas in Cork.
“Management in Cork Kerry Mental Health Services are actively taking every measure to acquire the necessary resources, clinical and otherwise, to ensure a quality service for the children of Cork going forward,” the CKCH spokesperson said.
Long-standing recruitment challenges have faced several CAMHS teams in Cork and Kerry which, in turn, has affected Sláinte Care waiting time targets, they added.
“Local, national and international efforts are continuing in order to ensure that all available avenues are explored to provide a staffing supply for mental health services, including CAMHS services.
“The HSE has taken concrete steps to address these issues in workforce planning, as well as training and recruitment enhancements.
“Every effort is being made to address these staffing challenges including, but not limited to, the use of agencies, overseas recruitment, and telemedicine,” the spokesperson said.
With regard to North Cork, CKCH has put a weekend clinic in place to tackle the waiting list in that area.
In addition, recruitment is underway to appoint a clinical co-ordinator and practice manager.
“We wish to reassure young people and their families that urgent cases are responded to on a priority basis, often within 24 to 48 hours.
“Referrals to CAMHS are prioritised according to their acuity and severity.
“In a crisis situation, we would urge the service user to engage with their GP, or present to the nearest emergency department, where necessary supports will be available,” said the spokesperson.