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Tele-psychiatry delivery to plug regional staffing gaps
Minister Jim Daly Pic: RollingNews.ie

09 Jun 2020 / Ireland Print

Tele-psychiatry delivery to plug regional staffing gaps

Mental-health services are moving online in an effort to modernise delivery.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Jim Daly (Minister for Mental Health and Older People)  yesterday launched the HSE online CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) ‘Connect’ service.

The inaugural CAMHS Connect will form the core of a new HSE West mental-health hub, and will comprise the on-line service based in a new CAMHS day hospital.

Further psychiatry of later-life services will also be rolled out across a wide catchment area, providing outreach services to emergency and in-patient units via tele-psychiatry. 

Initiatives

CAMHS Connect is one strand of various new e-mental health initiatives, including pilot tele-psychiatry projects from the HSE in Wicklow, Galway and Mayo.

The online services will range across adult services, addiction and substance-abuse care, GP and primary care, and mental-health intellectual disability. 

CAMHS Connect will improve out-of-hours services.

Currently, a young person presenting to a facility with no on-duty psychiatrist must wait until one becomes available the following morning.

Around-the-clock support

Clinical support will now be available around-the-clock, backing up health staff in their treatment of those presenting with mental-health crises, thus avoiding delay and helping to reduce waiting lists. 

Improved support will also be available to mental-health multi-disciplinary teams 
across large geographical areas to fill gaps where there are recruitment issues.

Clinical governance

In some instances, the lack of immediate consultant clinical governance can severely inhibit the work of an entire CAMHS team, and delay the timely treatment of patients.

The minister described the new Roscommon model as offering a real solution for such scenarios, and having the potential to radically improve the experience of mental-health services users in counties Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.

The new model offers a real alternative to in-patient care, he said, and will also support, as appropriate, CAMHS services in the south-east. 

Funding

Launching the service, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar compared the funding for mental health in Ireland in 2012, which stood at €711 million. Today, it is just over a billion euro.

He said that the COVID-19 emergency had reinforced the need to find new ways to meet evolving needs, by developing online responses to complement existing mental-health care.

“By creating a digital hub, it will be possible for mental-health professionals to provide outreach services to emergency and in-patient units via tele-psychiatry.”

Minister Daly said that a key issue was to ensure quality and safety, particularly around confidentiality, and protecting the rights of all users.

Tailored approach

“I have seen on-line systems working very well abroad, so I was determined to introduce similar, but tailored approaches in Ireland to address obvious need and long-standing calls from many in the mental-health sector.

“The potential represented by CAMHS Connect is enormous nationally in so many ways, particularly from a 24/7 perspective or addressing distance or staffing obstacles,” he concluded.

Gazette Desk
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