The Taoiseach said a report will be carried out on resources and staffing for children’s mental health services across Ireland after it emerged that tens of thousands of young people are awaiting vital treatment.
Children’s charity Barnardos released its winter waiting list report, which shows that 37,000 children are waiting for health assessments for mental health, disability or speech and language treatment.
The report reveals that some 78% of children with a disability or suspected disability are overdue an assessment of needs to identify their health requirements.
It also shows that over 4,000 children are waiting for disability assessments, while 2,621 children are waiting for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) services.
Speaking in the Dail, Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty slammed the report as “scandalous”.
“The report also highlights an issue I raised last week, the fact that thousands of children are waiting for mental health assessments to identify their needs,” he added.
“Many of them are waiting over a year to be assessed. It is another unbelievable figure.
“Approximately half of the positions in CAMHS teams have been vacant for some time, yet when we raise the crisis that is in full swing with regard to recruitment and retention, the Taoiseach dismisses our concerns.”
#WaitingLists Childhood is a time of rapid development - timely assessments and treatments are crucial to a child’s development. Too many children’s health, wellbeing and overall development is being compromised; https://t.co/FB2pvCDrb2 pic.twitter.com/EMXheQK5Ef— Barnardos Ireland (@Barnardos_IRL) November 27, 2018
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the levels of child poverty remain “far too high”, adding that there is “more to be done”.
He said he will seek a report comparing resources, staffing and outcomes in regions across the country.
“With regard to CAMHS, the Deputy will be aware that under our mental health services as of September 2018 there are some 10,000 staff,” he continued.
“In just the past six years 2,000 posts have been approved, of which 1,500 have now been filled.
“The figures for those who are waiting for that prolonged period are 0.6% in Dublin, 0.6% in Donegal and the Border, but it is 29% in Cork and Kerry.
“I do not believe that resourcing and staffing is so much lower in Cork and Kerry to have nearly 30% of people waiting over one year when in other parts of the State it is 0% or less than 1%.”
June Tinsley, head of advocacy at Barnardos, said: “These children face extreme difficulties in their everyday lives because they can’t get timely access to healthcare.
“Problems in school, in some cases not being able to attend school at all, difficulty making and maintaining friendships, poor mental health and developmental delays are all common for children on waiting lists.
“It doesn’t have to be like this. There are solutions out there in the community which are working but they need funding and support from the Government.”