An interim report was published on Monday January 23rd 2023 by Dr Susan Finnerty, the Inspector of Mental Health Services.
The report provides an independent review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
Dr. Finnerty expressed concern in the report over the lack of follow-up appointments being carried out and the number of children and young people who had no follow-up appointments scheduled to review their treatment plans or to monitor their medication.
The report outlined that in one CAMHS team, there were up to 140 cases which were ‘lost’ to the system, with no follow-up appointments scheduled within the next 2 years.
It was also revealed that in some cases, where children had reached the age of 18, there were no procedures in place for a transition to adult services or a plan to discharge these patients from the service.
In January 2022, a review of the CAMHS services in south Kerry highlighted some serious issues in relation to the quality of the service that provided in this area, which prompted a wider review to be carried out. Read our report on the Kerry report here.
Some of the concerns raised in Dr Finnerty’s report include the variations in care being provided in different areas of the country, the lack of capacity to provide essential treatments, the lack of IT infrastructure and the lack of emergency services available.
One of the main contributing factors to those ‘lost’ cases was the lack of a digital filing system in many areas. The recent review has identified a number of failings across many CAMHS teams and Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs).
Dr. Finnerty has identified two key factors which are contributing to deficits in these services: lack of resources and staff shortages.
Immediate clinical review and regulations under legislation
Dr. Finnerty has made two immediate recommendations to the Health Service Executive (HSE) in order to address these issues. Firstly, she recommends an immediate clinical review of all open cases across all CAMHS teams, with a particular focus given to identifying and assessing open cases of children who have been lost to follow-up and physical health monitoring of those on medication. Secondly, Dr Finnerty called on government to ensure that there is immediate regulation of CAMHS, under the Mental Health Act 2001. Dr Finnerty has also escalated some of her concerns to the HSE due to her ‘serious concern for the wellbeing and safety of children’.
Failings across the country
Dr Finnerty’s interim report indicates that some of the care failings and organisational deficits highlighted by Dr Ankur Sharma, the consultant psychiatrist who turned whistle-blower to expose the south Kerry scandal, were also being seen in other CHO areas.
HSE Chief of Operations Officer Damien McCallion has announced that any parent or guardian with a concern or query about their child who is currently attending CAMHS should contact their child’s team directly, or they can call HSE.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin has commented that the findings were unacceptable and that no child should be lost in a system.
January 23rd, 2023: Tánaiste describes findings of Interim Report on CAMHs ‘unacceptable’
February 4th, 2022: HSE Report on long waiting lists at CAMHS across the country
February 2nd, 2022: Government committed to ‘non-adversarial scheme’ in compensating those affected by CAMHS Report in South Kerry
January 27th, 2022: CAMHS Report in South Kerry prompts “full audit nationwide”
About the Author: Avril Scally is a Partner and Nicholas Moore is a Solicitor on award-winning the Medical Negligence Team at Lavelle Partners.