According to Ms Sonia Magaharan, Clinical Nurse Specialist, North Cork Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, access to the service for children with ADHD needs to be maximised through the provision of a specialist neurodevelopment team, similar to that in the UK.
“This could incorporate a nurse-led service with advanced nurse practitioners, which would allow for children with ADHD on medication that have completed all other CAMHS [Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service] interventions to be discharged to this team. Discharging children is important for both the child and families’ psychological wellbeing. This also improves capacity for intake, improves staff morale and satisfaction,” Ms Magaharan noted in a recent address to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care.
She added that children who present with possible ADHD are most likely placed on a routine waiting list as older adolescents are often presenting as emergencies with deliberate self-harm, eating disorders and psychosis and require urgent care.
“Due to this, children are sitting on the waiting list, which risks their difficulties becoming more entrenched. They are not reaching their social, emotional and academic potential as a result,” she warned.
She called for the use of technology to assist in diagnosing children with ADHD, noting that the QB Test is used successfully in the UK and within other CAMHS teams in Ireland.
Meanwhile, Mr Michael Walsh, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, also addressed the Committee on the many shortcomings within CAMHS.
He noted that the team in Wexford South struggles daily to overcome obstacles caused by lack of resources and poor accommodation, which he said is “not fit for purpose”.
“When the consultant is on leave there is no replacement. Hence this results in no new referrals being looked at and no new clients being seen,” Mr Walsh said.
He called for those who manage the services to be held to account and for nurses to be paid at therapeutic grade level to encourage them to stay in Ireland.
“I feel we are again letting down the most vulnerable children in our society,” Mr Walsh argued.