Over 1,000 young people waiting longer than three months for first mental health appointment

New HSE report also shows increase in numbers waiting over a day in emergency departments

Many young people continue to face long waits for mental health treatment, according to new figures.

A new report published by the HSE shows there were 1,079 children and adolescents waiting longer than three months for their first mental health appointment in February, down 78 from January.

A smaller proportion - 177 in February and 182 of January - were left on waiting lists for more than 12 months.

A total of 4,645 young people were referred to be seen by mental health services during the two-month period. However, only 58.4% of appointments offered and seen in February were within 12 weeks of referral, compared to 63% in January.

The HSE said in the report that recruitment issues have posed a significant challenge for the provision of mental health.

“The [children and adolescent mental health services] waiting list initiative, which is focusing on ensuring that no-one is waiting over 12 months, is continuing despite the challenges presented by the level of vacancies and the difficulty in recruiting,” it said.

Emergency departments

The report also identified continued delays in emergency departments across the country. The average daily number of patients waiting for over nine hours was 153 in January and 148 in February.

Over 8,500 patients -  4,696 in January and 3,931 in February - faced waits of over a day, compared 7,625 in the first two months of 2015. More than 2,700 in this year’s figures were older than 75.

The HSE said there was a 6% national increase in the number of patients aged over 65 presenting to emergency departments in February, with a number of sites showing increases well beyond that level.