200 children needlessly on waiting list for psychiatric hospital care

More than 200 children were needlessly put on a waiting list for acute psychiatric hospital care, it emerged yesterday.
200 children needlessly on waiting list for psychiatric hospital care

Minister of State for Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch, said her department had examined the waiting list for child and adolescent mental health services earlier this year

“When we looked at it we discovered there were over 200 children that should not have been on the list at all — they should have been dealt with in primary care,” she told a meeting of the Committee on Health and Children.

Waiting times for child and adolescent mental health services have improved following an initiative by the minister.

The number of young people waiting more than 12 months for a first appointment dropped from 479 in March to 241 in August this year.

Ms Lynch said the HSE Service Plan, expected to be published later this month, would include a programme of child and adolescent psychiatric services to be delivered in primary care.

The aim was to have as many young people as possible treated by the primary care psychology service instead of referring them to acute psychiatry units where, in some instances, they need not be.

Mental Health Reform, an umbrella group of non-governmental organisations, said children needed prompt access to mental health support because they were at a key stage of their lives.

“Children should not be put onto waiting lists for mental health services if they could be supported in primary care services, but the primary care system needs dedicated staff who have the skills to support children’s mental health,” said its director, Shari McDaid.

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