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New data reveals dramatic regional disparities in access to child and adolescent mental health care (CAMHS)
Coleman Legal LLP
Sep 15, 2023

Over half of the children and adolescents referred to their local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are being denied access in certain regions of the country.

The HSE blocked access to approximately 4,000 children referred for mental health services this year, marking over a 10% increase in refusal rates in the past three years.

Recent data analysis reveals significant regional disparities in the number of children denied Camhs services.

The Cork and Kerry region not only has the longest waiting list but also one of the highest refusal rates. More than half of the nearly 1,200 children referred this year were refused treatment.

According to HSE statistics, the refusal rate for Camhs referrals escalated from 28% in 2020 to almost 40% last year, with 41% of referrals denied so far this year.

During the pandemic, there was a substantial rise in referrals to the service, from 17,436 in 2020 to 22,212 in 2021.

However, the number of accepted referrals only slightly increased from 12,531 to 14,439. These discrepancies in refusal rates varied by location. In some regions, more than half of the referred children were denied Camhs services.

South Tipperary, Carlow/Kilkenny, Waterford, and Wexford had the highest refusal rate last year, with over 51% of referrals being turned down. So far this year, the refusal rate in this area stands at 54%.

The HSE emphasised that Camhs is a specialised clinical service for individuals under 18 with moderate to severe mental health difficulties, and not all referrals meet the criteria.

The HSE claims that approximately 30% of referrals are deemed inappropriate for Camhs based on the service’s operational guidelines and that they prioritise referrals which they deem high-risk.

However, even GPs have begun to question the basis for these widespread refusals with Sinn Féin spokesman, Mark Ward, claiming he is aware of GPs who are referring their patients to various mental health services, desperate for one to accept.


At Coleman Legal LLP, we have a team of highly qualified solicitors and legal executives with extensive experience in medical misdiagnosis, inappropriate prescribing, medication mismanagement and deficits in care.

We are available to speak to the parents of the affected children in addition to patients who are now 18 years of age or older that may have been impacted by the negligence on the part of the HSE.

Keith Rolls Partner Coleman Legal LLP

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