'It's absolutely insane' - Father of son under CAMHS care with Dubai-based doctor

Maurice O'Connell has said he believes the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service should be dismantled and re-built
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.10 31 Jul 2023

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'It's absolutely insane' - Fat...

'It's absolutely insane' - Father of son under CAMHS care with Dubai-based doctor

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.10 31 Jul 2023

Share this article

The father of a teenager, who was offered treatment via Zoom from a psychiatrist in Dubai, has branded the approach as 'absolutely insane.'

Maurice O'Connell has said the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAHMS) should be completely dismantled and re-built.

He said he fears his teenage son, Jason, will 'fall through the cracks' between child and adult services.


Mr O'Connell, who is from Kerry, told The Hard Shoulder a fully-qualified consultant could not be found to cover the area.

"[Minister of State Mary Butler] came up this bright idea of telemedi, they call it," he said.

"You can sit there on a Zoom call with this doctor over in Dubai, and he'll prescribe medicine and he'll listen to you.

"Whatever he writes down then the people in CAMHS in southwest Kerry go by what he says.

"I have refused that service myself, because I don't believe it works.

"It's like if you done a Zoom call with a doctor, and he told you you had cancer without even checking you out, mental health is an unseen disease.

"I can't for the life of me see how telemedi can actually diagnose a child unless he's personally there in the first place".

'Very vulnerable children'

Mr O'Connell said the psychiatrist is flown to Ireland once a month to treat his patients.

"He's flown over by the HSE, and he stays a Friday and a Saturday, and then he flies back again on the Sunday," he said.

"It's absolutely insane in this day and age.

"On top of that you are talking about very vulnerable children here and this is the kind of care that they get from the HSE.

"These children need a full-time consultant in south Kerry, not somebody in Dubai".

Mr O'Connell said his son may not even get seen once a month.

"It could be once every three months because he's so many people to see in south Kerry, and if they don't accept Zoom he has to see them personally.

"So you could be waiting three months for an appointment with that doctor from Dubai".

'Everyone of them should be fired'

Mr O'Connell said he believe the entire CAMHS system should be scrapped.

"What needs to be done as far as I'm concerned is that... they have to dismantle CAMHS from management up," he said.

"Middle management all the way to the top, everyone of them should be fired, and a new lot brought in to see if they could do anything with the service".

'I worry every day'

Mr O'Connell said the medication is part of the problem.

"There has to be another way of dealing with children with mental health problems besides medicating them," he said

"If you see a child, like my son, that was medicated - depression, anxiety, gaining weight, suicide attempts - and it was all down to the medication he was getting.

"I worry every day - I still get up at 4 o'clock in the morning, walk the hallways and just peep into his room to make sure he's still alive.

"That's heartbreaking for a parent that they have to do that.

"I'm so used to doing it for nearly two years, walking the hallways just to make sure that he would stay alive til the following day," he added.

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact The Samaritans on 116-123 or e-emil

Main image: Split-screen image shows Maurice O'Connell and the Dubai skyline in the United Arab Emirates

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CAHMS Child And Adolescent Mental Health Service Dubai Hse Kerry Maurice O'Connell Medicine Psychiatrist Telemedi The Hard Shoulder Zoom Zoom Call

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