Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has submitted legislation that will give statutory powers to the Mental Health Commission to regulate the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
Teachta Ward said:
“David Cullinane TD and I have submitted legislation to the Oireachtas Bills office that will give statutory powers to the Mental Health Commission to regulate the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
“We have now had several damming reports by the Mental Health Commission into CAMHS. The most recent report the Mental Health Commission made 49 recommendations to improve CAMHS services for patients, parents, and staff.
“I have no idea if the Government will accept these recommendations as there has been little or no response to my proposals.
“Whilst the Mental Health Commission can make recommendations on governance and clinical reforms in CAMHS they do not have the statutory authority to ensure that these recommendations will be implemented.
“That is what this legislation will do. I am calling on the Government to support this legislation as empowering the Mental Health Commission with the powers to improve CAMHS is the right thing to do.
“The HSE has informed me that 94.3% of all urgent cases were responded to within 72 hours
“I want to know what metric they use to measure this. Is a letter to a parent deemed as response as this is what parents are telling me.
“This legislation will allow the Mental Health Commission to oversee the HSEs response to urgent cases.
“There must be oversight of CAMHS due to the seriousness of the concerns raised by the Mental Health Commission and the Maskey report.
“Under this Government, waiting lists for CAMHS have only gone up and up.
“There are now almost 4,000 young people waiting on a first-time appointment with CAMHS. When this Government was formed in 2020, this list was at 2,115 children.
“What is even more concerning is that 735 of these children have been waiting for over a year for CAMHS services which is a 209% increase since 2020.
“Access to children’s mental health services should be based on need and not where you live.
“A postcode lottery of care has developed which has led to some children waiting longer for an appointment based on their location.
“This legislation will help implement the governance and clinical reforms to help guarantee that all children have access to evidence-based and safe services, regardless of geographical location or ability to pay.
“CAMHS is only for a small percentage of children in the population, for those with moderate to acute mental health problems. However, if children do not get the early intervention they need, they are going to need the more acute services.
“The Government have allowed a situation to develop that has led to over 16,000 children waiting on an appointment for primary care psychology with over 6,000 of these children waiting over a year.
“I am calling for cross party support for this legislation as there is not a TD in the state who has not had heartbroken parents contact them desperate for help for their children.
“We have gone beyond crisis point in children’s mental health care and the Government have gone missing.”
Legislation including explanatory memorandum is available to view here: Mental Health Act Amendment Bill