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Children worst hit by psychology backlog ‘crisis’

New figures recently released by the Department of Health show that more than 5,800 patients waiting are aged between five and 17 years.

Around 940 children aged from 0-4 years are awaiting a psychology appointment, while 1,490 patients aged 18-to-64 are currently seeking an appointment. Some 113 individuals aged over 65 years are also awaiting an appointment.

According to Fianna Fáil Deputy James Browne, the figures are “clear evidence that there is a crisis in the provision of mental health services for children in the community”.

Speaking during a Dáil debate on the issue, Deputy Browne added that “vulnerable children and teenagers need the service and there is an obligation to provide it. We know there are significant regional variations across the country, depending on where one is. There is effectively an Eircode lottery. In County Wexford, 230 young people have been waiting for more than a year. Cork has 456 young people in the same category and Galway has 208”.

Meanwhile, Mental Health Reform recently stated that 2,908 children and adolescents were waiting to be seen by the Community and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) for a first appointment at the end of May, with 11 per cent waiting over one year.

Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, said the HSE has a service improvement initiative underway for psychology services.

“This includes the recruitment of people to fill an additional 22 psychologist posts and 114 assistant psychology posts. The posts were advertised recently. A cross-divisional working group, including the mental health division, is working to ensure standardised delivery of service, setting-out and communicating the arrangements for care pathways and reporting of metrics,” Minister Daly stated.

“Each [HSE] Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) has been requested to submit a short-term action plan to address waiting lists in priority areas as part of the service improvement initiative.”

He added that there has been an ongoing reduction in patients waiting over 12 months for CAMHS services.

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