Calls to immediately staff ‘underfunded’ Limerick mental health service

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Deputy Quinlivan critical of ‘underfunded’ clinic in city

Deputy Quinlivan critical of ‘underfunded’ clinic in city

LIMERICK TD Maurice Quinlivan has said that more staffing and resources need to be immediately made available at an “overwhelmed and underfunded” mental health service for children in the city. 

This comes as parents were informed of extensive waiting times for cases. 

The Leader previously reported that a senior clinical psychologist at Blackberry Park, Ballykeeffe, wrote to parents earlier this month, announcing that they have created a waiting list for urgent and standard referrals.

This is because there is a “lack of psychology staff resources and no maternity leave cover for existing staff” and are unable to provide support through their parent support clinic. This newspaper also previously reported in April that 953 children were placed on a waiting list for either assessment or intervention, and that the service had been without an intervention child psychologist for 11 months.

Deputy Quinlivan said in the Dail last week: “Children should not have to meet this extreme standard to access psychology services when they need it. It’s completely unacceptable that all other children accept children in these urgent cases are to go on a waiting list.

“I have been in contact with the Senior Clinical Psychologist in the School Age Service who has worked in the service for nine years. She said when she started the caseload was 120 children, but now it is 410. Despite this there is just one full time senior grade clinical psychologist and 1 part time to deal with this massive workload. The staffing has not increased despite the trebling of the caseload,” he said. 

“Currently the government are deciding how much money they can put away in the rainy day fund, so how can the Minister stand here today and tell me that hundreds of millions is better sitting in a bank account, than a tiny fraction of it going towards this incredibly important service for children. 

“The solution here is very straight forward. Limerick Early Intervention Service and School Age Teams need more staff, more funding and more resources immediately. I want to take this opportunity to commend the staff in Limerick Early Intervention Service and School Age Teams for working so hard, for so many children, with so little resources.”