CLEAR NEED FOR ENHANCED FUNDING IN 2020 FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND PRIMARY CARE SERVICES IN DUBLIN BAY NORTH – BROUGHAN

On behalf of his Northside constituents, Deputy Broughan has been asking about the waiting lists for services in the Community Health Organisation Area 9 or CHO DNCC (CHO for Dublin North, Dublin North Central and Dublin North West).  Last week, Deputy Broughan received some very detailed replies to these Parliamentary Questions directly from both the Head of Service Mental Health and the Head of Service Primary Care.  Based on these replies, Deputy Broughan can see that clearly greater resources are needed for the HSE in Budget 2020 for the huge demand in these highly populated areas of Dublin.

Deputy Broughan was informed that “services in Community Healthcare Organisation Dublin North City & County report monthly against national Key Performance Indicators.  Data on waiting times and activity is collected and collated nationally for the HSE Performance Reports which are published by the HSE.  The latest reports are available at http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/publications/performancereports/october-to-december-quarterly-report-2018.pdf/

The population of the area is reported as being 621,405 as per information from the 2016 Census.  One of the replies states that in 2018, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) received 1,631 referrals (of a total possible population of 145,581 – 109,912 aged 12yrs or less and 35,669 aged between 13-17yrs); the General Adult Teams received 4,346 referrals and the Psychiatry of Old Age Teams received 1,425 referrals.  As of the end of April 2019, there were 237 young people on waiting lists for CAMHS and this reply reports that 3 of those had been waiting for longer than 12 months, 13 had been waiting for 9-12 months, 18 had been waiting for 6-9 months, 35 waiting 3-6 months and 96 waiting 0-3 months.  The reply also provides figures for the adult and later life waiting lists.  The Head of Service Mental Health states that there is continued focus on improvements during 2019 and said that they will “work to expand out of hours responses for general adult mental health services by moving to the 7/7 model and continued appointment of agreed new staffing.”

The response by the Head of Service Primary Care provides waiting time figures for all ages for Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Psychology (saying “Primary Care Psychology Service North Dublin does not currently provide a service for 18 yrs+”), Audiology, Dietetics, Ophthalmology, Speech and Language, Social Work Intervention and Dental waiting times.

Of the 769 children under 4yrs (age group 0-4) waiting assessment for Occupational Therapy in Dublin North in April 2019, 279 of those have been waiting for longer than one year; 103 have been waiting for 39 – 52 weeks; 99 have been waiting 26 – 39 weeks; 151 have been waiting 12 – 26 weeks and 137 have been waiting less than 12 weeks.  There were 680 children aged between 5-17yrs waiting more than 1 year for an assessment and 764 people aged 65 and over waiting for 0-12 weeks.  Regarding Physiotherapy, there were 180 children aged 0-4yrs waiting for longer than 1 year for an assessment and 348 5-17yr olds waiting for over 1 year for psychology treatment.  Audiology doesn’t seem to have anyone waiting over 39 weeks for treatment with 18 0-4yr olds waiting between 26-39 weeks.  Shockingly, there are 1,717 children aged 5-17yrs waiting more than 1 year for Ophthalmology treatment.  Speech and Language Services have large waiting lists for initial assessment, initial therapy and further therapy (see table below).

Deputy Broughan says “The PQ replies from the HSE Heads of Services clearly show the huge demand for the essential health services being provided in CHO Area 9.  With such a large population (that has most likely increased since Census 2016) and the continuing recruitment and retention issues within the HSE, it is vital that greater resources are provided to reduce the length of time people must wait and to provide the supports to the hard-working staff delivering the services.  Of course, there are some welcome improvements such as the reduction in the number of children waiting for more than 1 year for CAMHS (down to 3 from 12 in 2015) but really for anyone to be waiting for more than 3 months for any assessment or treatment is not acceptable.  It is noteworthy than many of the highest numbers waiting for these services are the most vulnerable – the babies and toddlers up to 4 years of age and the older people in our constituencies.  With all this talk of reconfiguration of services the timely delivery of high quality service must be the priority going forward.”

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