Minister of state for mental health Mary Butler has confirmed that a compensation scheme has been opened for the families affected by the scandal in South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The non-adversarial CAMHS Kerry compensation scheme was approved by Cabinet earlier this month and will be operated by the State Claims Agency.
In January, Dr. Sean Maskey published a report on the failings in care by CAMHS, South Kerry. Only those children and families who were identified in the report as having suffered some level of harm will be eligible to avail of the scheme.
The report, which was commissioned after a whistleblower raised concerns, examines the treatment of over 1,300 patients who attended the service and covers a period from July 2016 to April 2021.
It was revealed that hundreds of children were subject to “risky” treatment within the service and 46 of them suffered serious harm. Many of those treated within the service endured slowed thinking, sleepiness, serious weight gain, and distress, among other issues.
€5,000 payment will be made to cover the initial expenses of eligible applicants and the level of compensation will be agreed upon in a mediation process. The State has also agreed to pay “reasonable costs” for legal representation and any disputes regarding costs will be referred to a legal costs accountant for adjudication.
A panel of expert psychiatrists has been established for the scheme from whom applicants can seek an expert report for the purposes of mediation. Applicants may seek a report “elsewhere” but the SCA has reserved the right to commission a report from the panel. High Court president Mr. Justice Peter Kelly may review the mediator’s decisions.
Affected families remain free to take legal action through the courts instead, however, the State argues the scheme will be a faster process, resulting in a similar level of compensation. Ms. Butler explained that the scheme aims to compensate those affected whilst avoiding the stress associated with proceedings in court.
Eligible children and families may apply for the scheme via the HSE through Coleman Legal.