Staffing is an issue for children’s mental health services

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CORK Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) Mental Health Services said that all steps have been taken by management to acquire the necessary resources, clinical and otherwise, to ensure a quality service for children in Cork.

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

CKCH said it was “fully aware” of the importance of CAMHS, a service for children and young people with moderate to severe mental illness.

A Parliamentary Question (PQ) submitted by Fine Gael spokesman for Health and Cork TD Colm Burke asked Health Minister Stephen Donnelly why there were 641 children and young people awaiting CAMHS services by the HSE in Cork in December 2021, its plans to reduce this waiting list, and when it is expected that this list will be eliminated entirely.

In response to the deputy, the head of mental health services, Kevin Morrison, said all referrals received at CAMHS are triaged in a timely manner and the referral is either accepted or rejected at this stage.

He said the ability to recruit and retain community labor is “a significant and ongoing issue” amid longstanding labor challenges.

“It is known that the number of people on waiting lists for treatment or assessment exceeds Sláintecare’s wait time targets. It is also important to note that Cork CAMHS, like all CAMHS nationwide, has had difficulty recruiting and retaining the services of CAMHS doctors in recent years.

“The commitment to Sláintecare has been reconfirmed in the government program and the overall 2021 budget has invested in staff and infrastructure.

“A budget of €250 million has been allocated at national level to address waiting lists and implement waiting list initiatives across health services. A project team has been created in community operations with high-level national representation from all care groups to oversee the development and implementation of waitlist initiatives,” he said.

He said recruitment is underway for two additional positions within the area teams, including a senior speech therapist at North Lee North, and a CAMHS social worker will be distributed to the South Lee B and C teams.

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