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Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

National audit of CAMHS services to be carried out, Minister confirms

Mary Butler confirmed that the audit will examine prescribing practices and operational guidelines across all diagnosis and CAMHS teams.

A COMPREHENSIVE AUDIT of all Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) teams across the country will be carried out, the Minister for Mental Health has said.

Mary Butler confirmed that the audit will also examine prescribing practices and operational guidelines across all diagnosis and CAMHS teams. 

It follows the publication of a report into the care of more than 1,300 children who attended South Kerry CAMHS, conducted by a team led by Dr Seán Maskey.

It found that 46 children suffered “significant harm” while attending the service, and a review into 240 young people showed the service did not meet the standards which it should have.

Butler welcomed progress on the implementation of the recommendations of the Maskey Report. The framework is made up of 63 actions, the majority of which have already begun to be implemented, she said.

An oversight group, chaired by HSE Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor and Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry, has been set up to ensure the implementation of the recommendations. The group has met four times to date. 

A team, chaired by Dr Collette Halpin, has now been extablished to undertake the audit. Butler said the team are currently finalising process and methodology and are expected to report their findings in the last quarter of the year.

In a statement, Butler said the HSE are “wholly committed to implementation of all 35 recommendations, as well as the additional actions they will undertake at my request”.

“Proposals for the audit of compliance with CAMHS operational guidelines are being procured. Once they are assessed, a successful provider will be chosen. They’ll be asked to complete the audit within six months of appointment,” she said.

On the qualitative research into CAMHS experiences, work is at an advanced stage. HSE is engaging with an academic partner and they are at an advanced stage. The research will require ethical approval. It’s expected that this work can be completed within six months of confirmation of approval.

She added that CAMHS teams have been engaged with and assisted Dr Susan Finnerty and Mental Health Commission over the last number of weeks in conducting an independent review of CAMHS provision. 

“I will continue to work closely with the HSE as the progress implementation. Together, we can rebuild trust in our child and adolescent mental health services and do justice to the hard work and commitment of mental health staff throughout the country,” she said.


It was announced on Tuesday that families affected by the failings in the HSE-run South Kerry CAMHS were receiving details of a compensation scheme, which was approved by the Government last week.

People identified through the Maskey Report as having suffered some level of harm will be eligible to apply to the scheme, which will be operated by the State Claims Agency on behalf of the HSE.

A solicitor for the families welcomed the implementation of the scheme, but stressed that it must be non-adversarial.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Keith Rolls said it’s “very positive that the HSE are putting a team in place and we look forward to receiving the details of all the consultants who are making themselves available”.

However, he added: “I know the families are concerned about how detailed and thorough these reports can be due to the value of missing medical records we’ve been made aware of.”

Rolls stated that if his clients are “not satisfied” with the outcome of this team’s work, he and his colleagues “have been in discussions with specialists in the UK who are prepared to prepare these reports on behalf of our clients”.

Butler has said that no minimum payment will be set and the level of compensation will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

She told Morning Ireland on Wednesday: “The scheme will run to many, many millions of euros and the Government will not be found wanting to ensure those affected will get what they deserve in compensation for the harm caused to them.”

“However, I’m not going to preempt what any individual will receive, each case is individual. Each child is unique and they will be accessed in their own right,” she said.

Any affected families can contact the HSE’s South Kerry CAMHS Lookback Review information line on 1800 742 800.

Need help? Support is available:

  • Aware – 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Samaritans – 116 123 or email
  • Pieta House – 1800 247 247 or email (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland – 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 18)
  • Childline – 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)
  • ALONE - 0818 222 024  (for older people)

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