Findings of south Kerry Camhs review 'shocking, very serious and unacceptable', Taoiseach says

Published date26 January 2022
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
Mr Martin said there will be a full nationwide audit of compliance with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) operational guidelines by all teams

He said a prescribing audit will also be conducted in each of the 72 Camhs teams nationally and the Government will look at "any further measures required".

The Health Service Executive (HSE) report published on Wednesday morning said hundreds of children received "risky" treatment from a doctor working in mental health in south Kerry and significant harm was caused to 46 of them.

The review was into allegations that young people who attended mental health services in south Kerry were prescribed inappropriate medication.

The review examined the treatment of more than 1,300 young people who attended the South Kerry Camhs over a four-year period.

The risks involved in the treatment by the doctor included sleepiness, dulled feelings, slowed thinking and serious weight gain and distress, according to the review.

Mr Martin was responding in the Dáil to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall during Leaders' Questions on Wednesday, who asked if there would be a wider inquiry into Camhs services around the country.

Mr Martin said the findings demand "a fundamental review" of services, and not just those in south Kerry, and that it was not a "resources issue".

He said the first principle of medicine is to do no harm, but children had been harmed by "a complete failure of clinical performance and oversight and the entire management of the service".

"There was a systemic collapse here in terms of overall clinical governance and in terms of the overall management of the service," he said.

"I think any review view has to look end to end because questions were raised in the very fundamental decision itself, of saying you will have NCHD [non-consultant hospital doctor] in charge of a community area. People may have made a call at the time but even that has to be interrogated in terms of best practice."

Mr Martin said there was a broader issue around recruitment of qualified personnel generally, "which we know we need to face up to".

Ms Shortall said the review was "shocking and distressing" for all of the families involved and that some children would have been waiting up to two years to access the service.

"Instead of helping their children the service actually harmed them," she said.

The Dublin North-West TD said the treatment of the whistleblower involved, a locum consultant psychiatrist who has since...

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