Just before the recent Dáil recess for the summer holidays Enniscorthy-based Deputy Johnny Mythen raised the matter of children being placed in adult mental health units, which is mentioned in the programme for Government and the Sharing the Vision policy. This issue has been highlighted in Wexford over the past few years and as recently as last week.
“Will the Tánaiste commit to looking at the budget allocations regarding access to appropriate inpatient units and out-of-hours services? Has the Government considered the existing shortages in staff levels and the pending problem of retirements in the next five years, to end this bad practice of placing children in adult mental health units?
Replying to Deputy Mythen, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stated; “Unfortunately, this problem has been going on for a long time and we have struggled to deal with it. In some cases, there might be 16 and 17 year olds in an adult unit, while in other cases a decision is made in consultation with the family to put a child in an adult unit nearer to home rather than a children’s unit far away. Still, it is not a satisfactory practice.
“As long ago as when I was Minister for Health and Kathleen Lynch was Minister of State with responsibility for this area, we worked very hard on this issue and were able to reduce the numbers, though not eliminate them. I am determined that this Government be the one to deal with this once and for all and I will be discussing it with the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, in the weeks ahead. I thank Deputy Mythen for raising this issue.”
Edited by Dan Walsh