Monday 23rd January 2023: The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said today that the Interim Report of the Mental Health Commission on CAMHS services is a damning indictment of the many years of lack of investment in mental health services and lack of workforce within those services and CAMHS in particular. 

PNA General Secretary, Peter Hughes said the latest report highlights a CAMHS service that is failing children and young people, families, communities, and staff, and PNA has been consistently pointing to these failings within the CAMHS services for many years.  He said the fact that the Commission was moved to publish an interim report today, “because of the serious concerns and consequent risks for some” was extremely concerning.

Mr. Hughes said a national survey conducted by the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) last November revealed over 700 mental health nursing staff vacancies in mental health services generally throughout the country, but also pointed to the worsening staffing crisis within CAMHS with 27 vacancies in Linn Dara in Dublin, 12 in Cork CAMHS and seven in Galway.

“All of these staffing shortages are feeding back into the crisis in the provision of CAMHS services both in community and inpatient facilities at a time when demands for those services are growing throughout the country.  We already know that a number of staff at the 16 bed CAMHS unit at Eist Linn in Cork are due to leave and as yet there is no indication how the HSE proposes to replace these staff which could lead to a further reduction in CAMHS beds.  We also have 10 CAMHS beds in the new National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) in Portrane and 20 beds planned in the New National Children’s Hospital but with no indication as to how these services will be staffed.”

Mr. Hughes said PNA has already warned that any reduction in CAMHS beds  will further exacerbate an already unacceptable waiting list for CAMHS.

“The pressures and burn-out experienced by staff left to cope with staffing shortages in CAMHS is intolerable and growing.”

“We urgently need the establishment within the HSE of a National Mental Health Directorate as called for by this union, and outlined in the Vision for Change policy, to deliver on repeated broken commitments by HSE and to have operational and financial oversight of all mental health services.”

“The PNA is reiterating the demand we have made on the Department of Health over the last number of years to urgently establish a workforce planning group to address the crisis in recruitment and retention of mental health nurses.”

Media Contact: Derek Cunningham 086 2430535, Jim Devlin 087 2431057

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