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Eight-week wait for kids’ mental health appointments

Enda Cunningham



Children and adolescents in Galway are waiting eight weeks to access mental health services – twice the HSE target wait.

Figures released by the HSE show that young people in Galway are waiting eight weeks for an appointment date with Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, and the service remains “some way off reaching the target” of four weeks as standard.

HSE figures show that in July, the longest wait for an appointment was in Tallaght at 13 weeks, followed by Cork and Meath at 10 weeks; Limerick, Clondalkin and North Fingal at 7 weeks; Dublin City and Donegal (6 weeks); Dublin 15 (4 weeks); Roscommon and Offaly (3 weeks) and Kerry (one week).

Sinn Féin councillor Mairéad Farrell said that the recruitment and retention crisis in the area of child and adolescent mental health services is one of the most worrying parts of the crisis gripping the health service.

“Nowhere is the recruitment and retention crisis in the health service having a more devastating impact than in the area of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

“In an area where there are 2,700 children waiting to be seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, there is a staggering 13 vacant consultant posts and a shortage of psychiatric nurses.

“Indeed, figures released to my colleague Louise O’Reilly TD – Sinn Féin’s Dáil Spokesperson on Health – by the HSE have shown that one third of children’s mental health beds are currently closed due to staff shortages. That means that of the 74 beds in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Units across the State only 50 are actually open ‘due to staff shortages’.

“The HSE also revealed that there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service that provides vital supports to young people. While demand for the Jigsaw service continues to grow the provision of resources has not kept pace.

“As a result, in Galway at present there is a waiting time of eight weeks or 40 days for mental health services, twice the target they themselves have set of four working weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with an extended waiting period which puts them and their mental health at a very serious risk.

“We know that when CAMHS and Jigsaw are able to assess and care for young people they do an excellent job with often extremely good results. However, currently, this is often not possible because of shortages in funding, neglect of the services by government, and the pervading recruitment and retention crisis in the health service.

“We need to see dedicated action in the area of mental health to attract new staff, to keep the excellent staff we have, to reopen closed beds, and to reduce waiting times. This is quite literally lifesaving treatment and it is currently not readily available for those that need it,” said Cllr Farrell.

The HSE said: “Jigsaw does not operate a ‘waiting list’ in the same way as some other services. Every young person who is referred and for whose needs the service is appropriate is offered and appointment date.

“The target is to offer every young person an appointment within 20 working days (four working weeks) of the date of referral. Jigsaw remain some way off reaching that target, despite considerable work in introducing initiatives to make most efficient use of clinical resources (for example a standardised appointment scheduling system).

“Jigsaw monitor activity levels to ensure that they are working to capacity and offering as many appointments as possible. In the year to date (January to June) they achieved 95% of their target in terms of number of appointments offered. However, demand for services continues to grow (47% increase in referrals compared with the same period last year),” the HSE said.

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€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms




Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.

The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.

A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.

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Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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