BY BRIAN MOORE
CONCERNED parents and teachers are calling for immediate action to address the waiting lists for mental health services for young people in West Cork.
Almost 200 children are on the waiting list for assessment by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs) in Cork city and county – a figure which is set to rise, as there will be no new referrals to the system in Cork, due to the resignation of a senior consultant psychiatrist.
The closure of the list means GPs are being asked to send children and young people in distress directly to often overcrowded emergency departments.
Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (FF) has said that the health of children and young people in Cork South West is being put at risk by failing to appoint a psychiatrist to West Cork Camhs.
‘We have known for some time now that the HSE has a long track record in failing to fill essential vacancies across Camhs, but it is especially concerning to learn that it is starting to lose existing staff,’ Deputy Murphy O’Mahony told The Southern Star.
‘As a consequence, young people and their families living in towns such as Bandon, Bantry, Clonakilty and Skibbereen, are now forced to present to A&E during a mental health crisis.
‘I fear for the children who desperately need specialised care and support in an appropriate environment. This is totally unacceptable in circumstances where it is generally recognised that early intervention is key to rehabilitation.’
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said Health Minister Simon Harris continues to claim to be prioritising mental health, but the reality on the ground in Cork South West suggests otherwise.
‘During a time when the government are supposed to be delivering on its commitment to provide additional Camhs resources, services are further depleting. I want to know what plan is in place to fill this consultant vacancy and what, if any, alternative services are available to local children and young adults in need of mental health support.’
A spokesperson for West Cork-based Mental Health Minister Jim Daly said the HSE says its ‘key focus’ is to secure ‘appropriate consultant support’, and in the interim to ‘continue to support the rest of the team to maintain service provision as possible’.
Minister Daly has also discussed the matter with the HSE, he added.