Report finds "significant harm" caused to 46 children and young people at Kerry mental health service 3 months ago

Report finds "significant harm" caused to 46 children and young people at Kerry mental health service

A review also found that the care received by 240 young people "did not meet the standards which it should have".

A report has found that "significant harm" was caused to 46 children and young people who attended the HSE-run Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in South Kerry.

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Published by the HSE on Wednesday (26 January), the review examined the care received by more than 1,300 people who attended the services between July 2016 and April 2021.

Concerns expressed relating to one particular doctor in CAMHS, who is not identified in the report, led to the review.

It found that "no extreme or catastrophic harm" was caused to patients and that not all of the children with who the doctor worked were put at risk of harm.

However, the treatment by the doctor to 227 children was deemed "risky", as was the care and treatment of 13 other children by other doctors.

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Author of the report Dr Seán Maskey found that "unreliable diagnoses, inappropriate prescriptions and poor monitoring of treatment and potential adverse effects" exposed many children unnecessarily to the risk of significant harm.

Another issue identified in the review was that the diagnosis of ADHD for secondary school children was often made without the right amount of information from their teachers on how the children were at school.

Of the 46 children and young people who suffered significant harm, the harm included serious weight gain, sedation during the day, elevated blood pressure and the production of breast milk.

The report also found that checks on the unwanted effects of medications did not happen regularly or were not recorded properly, while necessary blood tests were not always done.

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Among the contributory factors listed in the review for these problems was the lack of a clinical lead for a team at the site.

Concerns about the doctor were first reported in 2018 yet the review found no proof that these concerns were addressed after being first reported.

The report states that the children were exposed to risk and harm by the doctor because of a "lack of knowledge about the best way to do things" and also makes 35 recommendations.

In a statement accompanying the published review, the HSE said it has apologised to the young people affected and their families.

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“Young people and their families are entitled to expect a high standard of care when they attend our services, and the report makes it clear that this did not happen in a large number of cases," said Chief Officer of Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Michael Fitzgerald who commissioned the report.

"As Chief Officer of the organisation, I apologise sincerely to the young people and their families for this. I want to reassure the young people and their families that we have taken on board the 35 recommendations in the report, and will implement them as quickly as we can.”

You can read the full report on the HSE's website here.

Main image via Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie