Welfare of children must become a higher priority for Government

Ivana Bacik TD
25 January 2023
  • Taoiseach confirmed to Deputy Bacik that a new clinical lead will be appointed, but still no timeline

Speaking in relation to comments made in reply to her by the Taoiseach, Labour Leader Ivana Bacik TD has said that a greater sense of urgency is needed to address the serious shortcomings in the delivery of care to children.

Deputy Bacik said:

“Yesterday, in Leaders’ Questions, I raised with the Taoiseach the shocking report of the Mental Health Commission on the state of children’s mental healthcare. Children and young people across the country are being let down when they are at their most vulnerable. So damning were the findings of Dr. Susan Finnerty that she was moved to publish them on an interim basis. The Government must match that urgency. We must see immediate change.

“One hundred and forty children have, apparently, been ‘lost’ in the Mid-West CAMHS system. There has been an abject failure to monitor children on anti-psychotic medication, and there is chronic understaffing and long waiting lists. Many young people are reaching their 18th birthday with no transition to adult services. That represents an appalling and endemic lack of organisation across the service.

“I am glad that we have confirmation of a planned clinical review into all open cases. However, the Taoiseach would not confirm when a new clinical lead will be appointed in youth mental health to ensure we have the necessary clinical leadership and governance. He was also silent on the matter of amending the Mental Health Act 2001 to create a separate and stand-alone section setting out child-specific guiding principles, in line with international human rights standards. These shortcomings simply must be addressed to bridge the gap on children’s care.

“It is not just mental health services for children which are overburdened. Yesterday broke records for children waiting on trolleys in Irish hospitals. Root and branch change is needed to ensure timely care for our youngest citizens. As Labour’s Health Spokesperson, Duncan Smith TD, has stated before, health problems manifest when people are young. Early intervention and support is essential at a young age to give our young people the best possible start in life. In a modern republic, there should be cradle to grave care of a high standard for everyone. The Government must change tack and bring a greater level of urgency to addressing the devastating situation in children’s healthcare. There must also be a greater level of accountability. The safety and wellbeing of our children is simply too important.”

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