CAMHS system in Donegal branded ‘disgraceful’


It’s been claimed that families in Donegal are finding it incredibly difficult to get an appointment with CAMHS.

Local Businessman Leonard Watson who has a child with complex needs has been sharing his personal experience with the service on today’s Nine Til Noon Show.

It’s understood that it took CAMHS seven months to contact the Watson family to say they are on a waiting list for an appointment – they’ve been waiting for over a year now.

Mr. Watson says its a huge problem in Donegal and has branded the current system as disgraceful:


HSE statement on Donegal CAMHS service: 

HSE Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provides mental health services to those up to the age of 18 years, who have moderate to severe mental health disorders that require the input of a multi-disciplinary team.

The Consultant Psychiatrist is the Clinical Lead on the team and all referrals to the service are reviewed by the multidisciplinary CAMHS team. When a child or adolescent is referred to CAMHS, there are a number of factors to be considered by the team, including the complexity of the needs of the child and where those needs can best be met. This may include the Children’s Disability Network Teams and / or the Child & Family Agency TUSLA working in partnership with the CAMHS Teams. Other considerations include their level of social and family support and the availability of resources and treatment options at primary care level or within community networks.  If CAMHS is deemed the most appropriate service for the child or adolescent, the referral is classified as urgent or routine.  The child or adolescent is added to the waiting list until an appointment becomes available at which point an appointment is scheduled.

CAMHS Service Improvement

Donegal CAMHS Services continually strive to provide high quality services within the resources available to them. Recruiting and retaining highly qualified skilled professionals is a challenge for all services,  however the service has successfully recruited two CAMHS consultants within the last two years, bring the full complement up to three permanent consultants. A fourth temporary consultant was recruited for a 3 month period during the summer of 2021 providing additional resources to address the ADHD waiting list. Out of the total allocation of 24.8 clinical, Whole Time Equivalent posts WTE’s, 3.5wte clinical posts are currently vacant and are in the process of being recruited.

Whilst CAMHS referrals have increased by almost 50% in 2021 (500 referrals received in 2020 and 734 received in 2021), significant progress has been made by the teams in reducing the waiting time for children and adolescent waiting for an initial assessment together with a reduction in the overall numbers on the waiting list. There are currently 129 service users on the waiting list with 9 service users waiting in excess of six months for their initial appointment. This compares to 149 service users on the waiting list in December 2020 with 54 waiting in excess of six months for their initial assessment and 196 on the waiting list in December 2019 where 85 service users were waiting in excess of six months for their initial assessment.

As per HSE policy, the local service cannot comment on individual cases. The Donegal CAMHS team will be making direct contact with the family of the young person to provide them with an update for their child.

HSE Donegal Disability Services

As staff are returning to work in residential disability services following recent COVID-19 outbreaks in a number of residential services in Inishowen, the level of day service at Cashel na Cor, Buncrana is increasing on a phased basis.

Day services at Cashel na Cor have been prioritised for those service users who have been assessed as having Priority 1 needs using the national prioritisation framework. Priority 1 service users are again receiving the level of service they had before the outbreaks in the residential services occurred.

Home support packages have been available to people with disabilities and their families whilst day services were affected by outbreaks.

Disability services are working towards a restoration of day services and are actively seeking to recruit additional staff to support full restoration



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