Speech by Dan Neville TD on the Dail Eireann debate on health services 22nd February 2012
Deputy Dan Neville
I would like to address the issue of child and adolescent psychiatric services. While the figures in respect of the number of children admitted to adult psychiatric services have reduced, it is totally unacceptable that there were 129 notifications of under-age admissions to adult approved centres last year. I know the Minister’s objective is to have no child or adolescent patient in adult psychiatric centres, which are totally unsuitable. Existing adult psychiatric services are poorly resourced to deal with children and adolescents owing to the different emphasis placed on a development prospective which needs to focus on families of young people, schools and social intervention rather than on treatment of the psychiatric difficulty.
Adult services do not have inpatient facilities that are appropriate for the admission of adolescents for various reasons, including health and safety and treatment issues. Adult outpatient clinics are generally not adolescent friendly. There is also a difficulty in regard to the provision of services for 16 to 18 year olds in that they are not eligible for adult or child psychiatric services. There is a gap in respect of services in this regard. The frequent need for an urgent response to problems presented by children and adolescents leads services to deal disproportionately with adolescents at the expense of their work with young children. In other words, when adolescents present, the service must deal disproportionately with young people.
It is totally unacceptable that children must wait six months to three years for psychiatric services. With early intervention, there is a 90% chance of cure but with late intervention the patient’s condition becomes chronic.
As stated on a number of occasions, I welcome the €30 million allocated this year to A Vision for Change. However, appointment of a director of mental health services within the HSE is urgent to ensure that money is spent on that for which it is designated. A previous Minister allocated €50 million to A Vision for Change, only €27 million of which was spent on psychiatric services. We must ensure the €30 million allocated to this area is spent on that for which it was allocated.