540 children have been waiting over a year for vital mental healthcare, new figures from the HSE have revealed.
In total, there are nearly 4,200 patients on the waiting list for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service - and 181 of those have been waiting for over 18 months.
The area with by far the longest waiting list is Cork and Kerry, where 862 are on a waiting list - of whom 198 have been waiting over a year.
“We’ve really only half of the multidisciplinary teams required for the population of young people that we serve,” Dr Maeve Doyle, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, told Newstalk.
“And those teams only have half the number of disciplines on the team in order to deliver a proper service.
“We’ve also had quite a large increase in our population from when these first estimates of what we needed were made.”
More staff needed
The need to recruit more staff as the population of Ireland grows is something the HSE is acutely aware of.
Last month it published a report that concluded a further 15,500 healthcare workers would need to be hired by 2035 - with particularly large increases in the number of physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists envisioned.
“So this report projects out to 2035, so what we’re saying is by 2035 we will need up to an additional 15,500,” Dr Conor Keegan, a Senior Research Officer at the ESRI, explained to The Pat Kenny Show.
“Now that number will be conditional on how far out you’re projecting - so if we were projecting out to the 2040s we’d need even more.
“It’s always better to think of these projects in terms of percentages and in terms of annual average growth.
“So as I kind of mentioned earlier in percentage terms we’re kind of talking about a growth rate of about 1.7% - 2.1% on average per year to 2035.”
Main image: An unhappy young person.