MHC CAMHS publications: “The current approach is simply not good enough and is failing our youngest and most vulnerable patients”

By dara
Thursday, 31st August 2023
Filed under: News, PressReleases, 2023

Mental Health Commission publications: “The current approach is simply not good enough and is failing our youngest and most vulnerable patients.”

Child CAMHS iStock 695877132 webComment by spokesperson for the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) on the publication by the Mental Health Commission of individual reports on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the nine Community Healthcare Organisations (CHO):
“The reports published today underline once more the scale and severity of the deficits faced day-to-day in our child and adolescent mental health services. Details of individual cases and what those involved and their families have to experience are all too familiar to those of us working in this area. 
“Regrettably, for consultants working in these services across the country, the capacity deficits in each region have been highlighted by us numerous times. We are trying to provide care in very complex and constrained conditions for young people who need care for urgent and severe mental health crises. Delivery of timely assessment, care and follow-on monitoring is critical but incredibly challenging in an under resourced service. 
“Time and time again, Consultants and others in the service have raised the serious concerns about staffing and capacity shortages and highlighted the impact this has on young people’s mental health and their ongoing care needs. Lessons are not being learned. There is no shortage of reports but very little by way of meaningful action. 
“Meanwhile, the growing deficits are stark. Currently CAMHS funding is approximately 0.63% of the overall Health Budget, at just €125.18m. 
“CAMHS teams are significantly below the recommended staffing levels, some below 50% of recommended levels. Some of these services are missing a third of the required Psychiatry Consultants, as these permanent posts remain vacant or only filled on a temporary, agency, or locum basis. 
“There are only 51 CAMHS inpatient beds operational across the country at any one time, falling well short of the 130 beds recommended in the Government’s ‘Vision for Change’ strategy. 
“The very fact that our benchmarks for staffing and bed levels are rooted in a 17-year-old mental health policy, also points to a lack of priority given to addressing this issue over the past decade and more.
“The current approach is simply not good enough and is failing our youngest and most vulnerable patients. Our priority must be ensuring all our young people have the best chance of a good quality of life, whether they require lifelong treatment to make that happen or not – this should be the goal of our national health policy. 
“There are many strands that have to come together, involving all pillars of the health system – GPs, Consultants, Allied Health Professionals - to ensure these highly vulnerable patients are cared for as required. 
“Decision-makers need to use their leadership and resources to drive such a collaborative, whole-of-service approach to ensuring an end-to-end care pathway under the oversight of dedicated clinical leadership for CAMHS. Failure to do so will simply mean similarly stark reports into the future.”
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