HSE response to Mental Health Commission interim report on CAMHS

HSE Statement
Monday, 23 January 2023

The HSE received the interim report of the Inspector of Mental Health Services into the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the State in early January. We had received a draft in late 2022 and at that time took the actions necessary to address issues raised in relation to individual service users.

Commenting, Damien McCallion, HSE Chief Operations Officer said, “This Mental Health Commission report comes at a time when we have a major CAMHS improvement process underway, and we will be putting a senior clinical/operational team in place to drive and support that process. This interim report, as well as the current prescribing review and other ongoing HSE audits in CAMHS, combined with the service improvement work underway, will all contribute to this process.

“The report makes systemic findings and conclusions, as well as highlighting concerns about the specific care provided to some children. The HSE engaged with the Inspector of Mental Health Services in the course of her work and where specific concerns were identified, we immediately put in place targeted actions plans to address them. In the case of all children where concerns have been raised by the MHC in their report, these have been managed directly by the service caring for them.”

Commenting, Dr Siobhán Ní Bhríain, HSE National Clinical Director Integrated Care said, “The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service is critically important to many young people and their families. We know that there are many challenges in the current service which can be continually enhanced to better respond to young people in need, and we continue to work hard to improve the services we provide. This has included further developing CAMHS teams and youth mental health responses, developing specialist services and clinical programmes to support children and adolescents experiencing mental health difficulties, further developing our suicide prevention programmes, investing in mental health in primary care, modernising forensic services and building digital platforms for easier access to services. Notwithstanding this investment, we know that there continues to be gaps in the current service, including levels of access, adequate levels of staffing/infrastructure and lack of consistency in the quantity and quality of services provided.

“A key recommendation of this interim report is that the HSE undertakes a review of cases within the CAMHS service that remain open - these are cases where a young person remains in the service but has not been seen for six months with a particular focus on physical health monitoring for those young people who have been prescribed neuroleptic medication.

“The HSE is putting the necessary plans in place to carry out this review so that we can be assured that children and young people in our service are receiving appropriate and timely care reflective of their current and future needs. We will arrange further clinical follow-up for any child where that may be required from this review and will make direct contact with parents or guardians as necessary.

“We are glad to note that the Mental Health Commission states in their report that many young people and their families have received excellent care and treatment within the often-limited resources of CAMHS teams who have nearly 20,000 cases nationally and see 225,000 appointments annually. While acknowledging the significant challenges we face, we encourage anyone engaged with a CAMHS service to stay connected to their team.”

Damien McCallion, HSE Chief Operations Officer added, “Over the last year, CAMHS has been undergoing a series of reviews and audits that include:

  • The national audit of prescribing practice commenced in all CAMHS teams in July 2022. There has been 100% response rate and full data analysis has commenced. The Expert Team undertaking this audit expects to report on the findings in the first half of this year.
  • Since 2022 all CAMHS teams have been undertaking an audit of compliance with the HSE CAMHS Operating Guidelines, 2019. This audit is due for completion in the first quarter of this year and this will allow the HSE have detail on capacity and activity of CAMHS teams and to see where targeted service improvement may be necessary.

“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 HSELive at 1800 700 700 who will take their details and arrange for someone from their CAMHS team to contact them if necessary.”

Last updated on: 23 / 01 / 2023