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Mounting problems with access to the Child and Adolesecent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) reached crisis point recently when a paediatric psychiatrist informed GPs she had no capacity to take on new cases.
Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr Shauna McCarthy, based at CAMHS in Clonmel, South Tipperary, issued a letter to GPs informing them the “HSE is currently unable to arrange locums for consultants’ leave, resulting in significant backlog of care for open cases.”
“There are currently delays of several months accessing inpatient beds and the consequent requirements for intensive care in the community has eroded capacity,” stated the letter seen by the Medical Independent (MI)
“I am advising you that there are also considerable delays in triaging referrals. In the meantime I can only advise that you review the patient as appropriate, refer to the ED as a place of safety if you consider it appropriate and link with relevant HSE management if you wish to contact them to arrange urgent pyschiatric assessment.”
MI understands that locum cover has not been provided by the HSE for several years, which has resulted in a backlog of work accumulating for psychiatrists that has now reached crisis point.
The lack of access to inpatient beds and similar resource difficulties in HSE community psychology services is also resulting in capacity being eroded in the area, it is understood.
The parent of an 11-year-old awaiting care in Tipperary, who spoke to MI, called for more resources to be urgently put in place.
The parent, who did not wish to be named, explained that her child suffers from severe anxiety and is currently being passed between CAMHS and the child psychology service for referral, with no appointment provided after over two months of waiting.
According to the HSE, it is “not always possible” to secure the services of a locum CAMHS psychiatrist due to “a national shortage”.
It said “alternative supports” are put in place involving other team members.