Tuesday, 2 July 2019
Mental Health Services Reports: Motion [Private Members]
More than two and a half times as many people die from suicide in this country as die in road accidents. Many of them are young people whose lives are taken away and whose families are devastated as a consequence. It is a national crisis. As my colleague, Deputy MacSharry, stated, continuing care, especially in the area of mental health, tends to be the Cinderella of services. However, it is of significant importance. For some reason, it does not seem to get attention in terms of getting the same amount of finance as other health services or, for example, that has been invested in reducing the horror of car accidents.
Members encounter this issue most often day to day in their clinics, where they are visited by people who are queueing to get into CAMHS. No matter how acute the case may be, the CAMHS list is taken in sequence. One gets on the list and one waits because it only has a fraction of the staff it needs. The reality is that in some parts of the country there are only half the number of staff required to provide the service. We do not seem to be able to understand that this is important and urgent and that the lack of staff is causing ongoing problems. Many people with an intellectual disability also suffer from mental health issues. People suffering from these disabilities and their parents must deal with that horrendous combination. Again, there are not sufficient staff to treat them. People are told that they must wait.
I believe that a stitch in time saves nine. It is far better to treat people as outpatients than inpatients. Obviously, inpatient care is needed, but it should be the last resort. We must question whether we have been penny wise and pound foolish in not ensuring adequate first-call services in CAMHS and other services to try to reduce the number of people who need a full-time residential service. Those who need such a service should get top-class provision. We need to get away from the Victorian ideas and conditions that bedevilled mental health services in the past. Of course, putting an underage person into an adult service should be taboo.