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Boosting ANPs in CAMHS could ‘reduce waiting lists’

Dr James O’Mahony (PhD), HSE Area Director of Mental Health Nursing, CAMHS in Cork, believes that ANPs are being vastly under-utilised within the service.

Having worked as a clinical nurse specialist and ANP in primary care in the past, Dr O’Mahony maintained that ANPs are highly educated and trained healthcare professionals who, if utilised correctly, could allow CAMHS consultants to focus their time on more complex cases.

“It would mean that ANPs could take on greater complexity and leave the more complex cases to consultants. Through that model, you could potentially reduce waiting lists, which has been demonstrated in other counties internationally, but we’re not maximising that at all in Ireland,” Dr O’Mahony explained.

Recent figures show that the number of children awaiting access to CAMHS reached almost 2,700 in March, representing an increase of 10 per cent compared to the previous month.

Dr O’Mahony said that people have “no idea what ANPs can do” and noted that they provide valuable patient care in the US, where they are considered senior clinical decision-makers.

The Government recently launched a new educational programme for advanced nursing practice that it claims will lead to the delivery of 700 ANPs by 2021.

The programme is for advanced practice nurses, who are senior decision-makers in the care team, providing appropriate, safe and accessible care across a range of services, according to the Department of Health.

The course attracted significant interest and the successful 120 applicants for the academic year 2017/2018 commenced the programme last October.

Dr O’Mahony welcomed the development in the hope that it would lead to a dedicated structure to develop the role of ANPs within CAMHS. 

“I believe if you maximise the skillset and expertise of other professionals on the team to take up other roles and responsibilities, in essence that frees-up child and adolescent psychiatrists to deal with greater complexity,” he said.

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