The Inspector of Mental Health Services, Dr Susan Finnerty, authored a report on the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and found many children had been ‘lost’ in the system.
The report was published by the Mental Health Commission (CMO) and revealed that many children and young adults did not have follow-up appointments via CAMHS for up to two years, even though they were supposed to be monitored. Children and adolescents that should’ve had their medications reviewed also were not given follow-up appointments.
Other issues found after the report was carried out includes long waiting lists, antipsychotic medication not being reviewed and therefore given without appropriate testing, poor management and governance, little organisation and overworked staff within the CAMHS system.
Dr Finnerty produced the interim report because of “the serious concerns and consequent risk for some patients”.
The review has been completed in five out of the nine Community Healthcare Organisations (CHO) and in just one of these CHO’s, there were 140 ‘lost’ cases within the CAMHS team.
The analysis found that 4% of children were waiting over 12 months for an assessment appointment and 28% were waiting for more than 3 months.
Some young people didn’t receive advice on their medication, while others were not called for appointments to review their prescriptions.
The report found “evidence that some teams were not monitoring antipsychotic medication, in accordance with international standards (there are no national standards)”.
This meant that “some children were taking medication without appropriate blood tests and physical monitoring that is essential when on this medication”.
When some people had turned 18 years old, there was no help for the transition from child to adult services. In certain cases there was no planning, discharge or transition at all.
Dr Finnerty has asked for “urgent and targeted action” to be taken in order to lessen these risks.