Independent Deputy Marian Harkin has told the Dáil that parents in Sligo and Leitrim who are trying to get appointments for therapists for their child are being advised: “to bring the child to an emergency department and not to leave until he or she is taken into the service.”
This statement shows just how dire the situation is with children waiting 12-24 months to be accessed or accepted by CAMHS teams.
Sinn Féin Councillor Brendan Barry highlighted the issue locally last week at the Ballinamore Municipal District Metting.
He informed his colleagues, that new teams were launched last July called Children's Disability Network Teams. Leitrim has one team to replace the previous two teams; one for early intervention and one team for primary school age children. But the team is till not complete with many vacancies.
He asked Leitrim County Council members to write to the local team to ask when the positions for physiotherapy, psychology, occupational therapy and speech and language therpies are to be filled in Leitrim.
He said therapists who leave are not being replaced and the backlog is building. He was supported by all Ballinamore area councillors.
Deputy Marian Harkin speaking on a motion by Cavan Sinn Féin TD Pauline Tully last week said the Government must be held accountable for the “deteriorating situation in regard to services for children with disabilities.”
“ It is most concerning that just over two weeks ago the High Court decided that the HSE is in breach of the rights of children with disabilities as set out in the Disability Act 2005. That is 17 years ago. The assessment of need that is conducted is simply not adequate to identify the extent and nature of the disability or, crucially, the corresponding level of service that is needed to assist those children in living their lives, in supporting their families and in helping to ensure the children have the best possible chance to live their lives and to maximise their quality of life just like every other citizen of the State.”
She said she has been calling for the CHO 1 area of Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan to be included as part of the school inclusion model which delivers a range of in-school supports and therapies including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and so on, but she is still waiting on a response.”
There are 32 whole-time equivalent positions allocated but only 19.4 filled.
She told the Dáil that last week she “received one of the saddest letters I have had in a long time.” It was about the total inadequacy of youth mental health services in Sligo and Leitrim, including the lack of beds, the lack of communication between professional teams and the neglect of young people in urgent need of such services. she said it is dreadful that the advice is to bring the child to an emergency department and not to leave until he or she is taken into the service.
“From the bottom of my heart, I hate doing it because emergency departments are full of people who need immediate help. However, there is nothing else I can say to those parents.”
The Government said they are actively recruiting for these positions 375 personnel across the country.
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