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Plight of teenager left 'lying in hospital' for weeks brought to High Court

There is no suitable placement for the teenager, who has a history of self harm.

Image: Shutterstock/HearttoHeart

A TEENAGER WHO needs a care placement to help prevent them from self-harming has been confined to a hospital because there is nowhere else for them to go.

The High Court heard yesterday that the teenager is currently into their third week in hospital despite the fact that it is considered an “emergency” that they be moved to a more suitable environment for recovery.

That teen has been in the care of the State for a number of years.

On numerous occasions, the teenager has self harmed and one recent incident required hospital treatment.

The court-appointed guardian ad litem, who acts as the voice of children in care in court, brought the matter to the High Court because they are extremely concerned about what will happen to this teenager in the immediate future.

“This is an emergency matter,” counsel for the guardian told the court.

The court heard from counsel for the guardian that the current situation is as follows:

  • The residential care centre in which the teen resided before being admitted to hospital is unsuitable to return to because of the risk of self-harming again
  • The teen has been in hospital but is now ready to leave, and has been for several weeks
  • Tusla has yet to find a suitable placement that caters for the teenager’s needs

In effect, it is the guardian’s concern that this teen will soon have nowhere to go. Given the history of self-harm, the guardian fears for the teen’s welfare, the court heard.

A district court had heard details of this case on several occasions since 27 May, but the guardian escalated the matter to the High Court as they felt that this case was so serious as to warrant urgent action.

The guardian was asking for a suitable placement to be urgently found for the teenager, given the seriousness of the situation and the complex needs the child has, the court heard.

Counsel for Tusla said that a great deal of hard work was being done to try to find a suitable placement for the teenager as soon as possible.

Some potential placements were rejected because they were unsuitable, the court heard.

“The HSE made it clear that they have no facility available,” counsel for Tusla said adding that the agency was clear it is Tusla’s responsibility to find an appropriate placement for the teenager.

Tusla asked for the case to be adjourned until Monday, to give time to try to find an appropriate placement for the teen.

While counsel for Tusla said that they did not want to give “false hope”, they said an “enormous amount of work” is being done behind the scenes to try to ensure a suitable placement is found.

The judge presiding over the case said Tusla had been aware of the issue for several weeks now, and that this is a case that is better off being resolved quickly. The judge rejected the application for the case to be adjourned until Monday and ordered all parties to appear before her today.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons.

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Sean Murray

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