Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has reacted angrily to the release of the latest waiting list figures which have revealed that 204 children are currently awaiting an initial assessment from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) team in the CHO 1 Area.
The data, which was provided to the Donegal Deputy following the tabling of a Parliamentary Question, also shows that 16 young people have been on the waiting list for over a year, while a further six children have been waiting over 15 months to receive treatment.
Criticising the figures, Deputy Doherty said: “Shortly before the Christmas Dáil break, I raised the issue of waiting times for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service with the Minister as more and more parents have reported their child experiencing long waits to access the service following an initial GP referral.
“The service, which is community-based, is designed to provide supports and treatment to children and their families who are currently experiencing mental health difficulties.
“Since then, I have now received a breakdown of the waiting list data for the service from the HSE and the figures for the CHO 1 Area, which includes counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Monaghan and Cavan, paint a worrying picture.
“They show that, as of the end of 2017, a total of 204 children are on the waiting list to receive an initial assessment. Of these, 16 have been on the list for over a year now while, even more worryingly, a further six young people have been waiting more than 15 months to receive treatment from the CAMHS team.
“This is simply appalling and these figures are clear proof that these children, some of whom are extremely vulnerable and need the appropriate medical intervention, are being let down by the current Government.
“Children accessing the CAHM Service typically have conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis and ADHD to name a few, and those experiencing these difficulties often display worrying behaviours which not only includes persistent feelings of sadness and worry, but also may extent to deliberate self harm.
“And yet, despite their needs, these young people are being denied access to timely care and professional intervention – that is heartbreaking.
“However, this data should come as no surprise to anyone particularly given the ongoing under-resourcing of the service which currently is operating with well below the recommended staffing levels.
“In fact, while it has been recommended that a total of 107 Full or Whole Time posts are required across the entire CAMHS network, there are currently only 75 positions filled.
“This means that 32 vacancies have yet to be filled, meaning that the service is running on only 70 per cent of the recommended staffing levels.
“For my part, I pledge to continue to make representations on behalf of the many families from throughout Donegal who continue to reach out in an attempt to access the services, care and treatment which their children so desperately need.”