On the eve of a UN examination on children, root and branch reform needed because of serious failings in CAMHS
The Children’s Rights Alliance is calling on the Government to implement without delay, the recommendations in the Interim CAMHS Report published today:
- An immediate clinical review of all open cases in all CAMHS Teams, using the NICE Guidelines and the CAMHS Operational Guideline. Particular focus should be given to identifying and assessing open cases of children who have been lost to follow up, and physical health monitoring of those on medication.
- Immediate regulation of CAMHS under the Mental Health Act should also be a priority.
Responding to the Interim Report by Dr Susan Finnerty, Inspector of Mental Health Services, in the independent review of the provision of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said: “At a time where children and young people need the support of mental health services more than ever, the Interim Report by Dr Finnerty is a disturbing read. One year on from one of the most damning reports on mental health services for children, the Maskey Report, we now see an interim report published due to the serious level of concern the inspectorate has arising from the work. One thing is clear from this report, root and branch reform is absolutely necessary, starting at the top with the clinical governance of the service. When the Maskey Report was published, we questioned whether the same issues were happening in other areas, and we now have a clear answer – yes.”
“The report contains alarming findings about the lack of governance and regulation in some services contributing to inefficient and unsafe service provision. This is of deep concern. Children, young people and their families come to CAMHS because they need support and vital care, they need to be able to put their trust in the system. This report reveals that the system has completely failed some children and young people with 140 “lost” to follow up, with no check in appoints, reviews or monitoring of medication, with some ageing out of the system in that time without any plan to transition to adult services that could support them.”
Worryingly, the report identified that many teams did not have the necessary capacity and training to provide standardised therapy. CAMHS is meant to be a specialised service, however this report shows that currently, it is not fulfilling this. Once again, the lack of emergency provision for children and young people in crisis is highlighted and in particular, areas outside of Dublin were found to be deficient in providing emergency care to those who need it most. This resulted in GPs resorting to referring children to Emergency Departments in order to obtain an assessment. Given the pressure being felt across the health system, the chronic under resourcing of these services is only perpetuating the problem."
"On foot of the Maskey Report published last year, it is disturbing to see further failings in the monitoring of antipsychotic medication in line with international standards. With the absence of any national standards, it is essential that a level of oversight is maintained with the provision of medication because the consequences can irrevocably change a child’s life and have a devastating impact on their future,” said Tanya Ward.
“The strain on staff is evident with team members working beyond their hours to try sustain services and meet demand. These professionals are working with some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the country, the value of their work cannot be overstated. Yet, the conditions are far from appropriate and provoke serious questions about the sustainability of these vital services without significant changes and increased resources.”
“We are calling again on the government to expedite establishing a well-resourced independent national advocacy service for children and young people accessing mental health services. The service would enable the young people and their families impacted by this to raise issues and complaints so they do not have to rely on the next inspection report to sound an alarm. We must also look at the workforce development plans for CAMHS to ensure that the findings lead to an improved service for children, one designed and resourced to meet their needs and one that does not risk further harm.”
“This report comes on the eve of Ireland’s examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on its progress in upholding children and young people’s rights. It raises serious questions about Ireland’s record on the provision of, and access to, vital healthcare and support services for children and young people in crisis that warrant further scrutiny,” concluded Tanya Ward.
Emma Archbold: firstname.lastname@example.org / 087 997 1410
About the Children’s Rights Alliance:
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 140 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL