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'Beyond comprehension': HSE CEO apologises to families affected by damning CAMHS report

The report found 227 children were exposed to risk of harm due to the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment of them.

Image: Leon Farrell via RollingNews.ie

HSE CHIEF PAUL Reid today apologised for the failings within the South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and described the practices at the facility as “beyond comprehension”.

The report, published by the HSE yesterday, found that 46 of the children suffered “significant harm” while attending the service and that a review into 240 young people showed the service did not meet the standards which it should have.

It found that 227 children being treated by a non-consultant doctor employed at the service were exposed to the risk of significant harm due to the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment of them.

These issues included sedation, emotional and cognitive blunting, growth disturbance, serious weight changes, metabolic and endocrine disturbance, and psychological distress.

Speaking today at the HSE’s media briefing, HSE boss Paul Reid said what happened at this facility was “deeply regrettable”.

“It is deeply regrettable, beyond comprehension… and just so wrong what happened in relation to the south Kerry CAMHS. The report very clearly demonstrates that some of the basic clinical oversights and prescription processes and general management processes were at least lacking and if not, in some cases abandoned.

“There’s no doubt it had a very significant impact on many children, which the report sets out and, indeed, on many of their families. None of us could bear to think how we might feel if one of those were our children who went through what some of these families and children have had to go through so as CEO, I certainly want to sincerely apologise for what had happened over a sustained period of time into service in this area.”

Reid said that the report into the CAMHS service has shaken the confidence of the public with the health system and it is the job of the HSE to go and repair that damage.

Children’s Ombudsman, Dr Niall Muldoon, said today that the report was devastating for the families involved.

“It was just the sense of massive betrayal for the children and families in carrying those involved, because these are children and families, they’re looking for help at the lowest ebb for children.

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“To get in, waiting lists are usually between a year and two years and then when they get in, they’re so grateful. The system is supposed to support them, that if there’s a difficulty with an individual doctor, and the system should pick it up. And it’s clear that over four or five years, there were a few red flags were never addressed and it’s really concerning.”

The Mental Health Commission (MHC) said it is now reviewing the report. The independent statutory body said that the 2001 Mental Health Act currently does not provide the MHC with the regulatory powers in relation to CAMHS or other community mental health services.

A spokesperson said: “On completion of its review, the MHC will form a view on whether any intervention may be required, to include providing advice to the Minister, and to ensure the safety, care and welfare of children and adults receiving mental health care services in Kerry and the rest of the country. The MHC has also requested an in-depth briefing from the HSE on the Kerry CAMHS report, which will inform its review.”

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