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24th Jul 2023

Admissions to child psychiatric services drops by 40%

Ellen Fitzpatrick

There has been a fall of 40% in admissions to child psychiatric services as nurses and psychologists call for “urgent” action to be taken.

Psychiatric nurses, psychologists, and mental health campaigners are all calling for action due to the continuing shortage of child inpatient psychiatric beds.

According to figures given to the Irish Examiner by the HSE, there has been a 40% drop in admissions to the four public Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) approved centres last year due to shortages in staff.

The numbers fell from 361 in 2021 to 218 in 2022, with only 98 admissions so far this year.

The problem comes after a decision was made last year to cut the number of operational beds due to staff shortages.

Psychiatric nurses have now wanted that the situation is “not sustainable” and needs to be “urgently addressed”.

Psychologists have also said that it is “unacceptable” that children who need inpatient care can’t access it.

In May 2022, the HSE cut the beds at Linn Dara in Dublin, the largest Camhs unit, from 24 to 13.

The total number of operational beds across the four centres was brought down from 72 to 51.

The cuts were set to be reversed by September 2022, but almost a year on from this they are still in place.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said that their estimates claim there are only 43 beds actually in operation rather than 51.

They also said the HSE’s plans to reopen the Linn Dara beds this September seem “unlikely” due to the ongoing staffing shortages.

In a statement, the HSE said the reduction of operational beds at Linn Dara is due to “high levels of nursing staff vacancies” but there continues to be a “concerted recruitment campaign”.

Linn Dara is not the only centre to see a reduction in operational beds as St Joseph’s also saw a reduction from 12 to eight in 2022, also due to staff shortages.