MENTAL health services for children which normally operate round the clock at University Hospital Limerick have been suspended to accommodate a review of the service.
In response to a Dáil question from Limerick Fine Gael TD Tom Neville, Minister of State Jim Daly said the review was being carried out because only 14 patients used the service in the whole of last year.
“We have to look at our resources and see if that is the best use of them and we are engaging with consultants as well as patients, their families and the HSE,” he explained.
“We need to see that we are deploying our resources in the most appropriate manner when the demand is clearly not there when just 14 patients presented for treatment.”
The HSE issued a statement to the Limerick Leader newspaper assuring patients and families that while the service is under review, children under the age of 14 who present outside normal working hours are still being seen, either by a paediatric consultant psychiatrist if there is one available or by another suitable doctor in the emergency department.
While the matter is still under review, the HSE says it hopes to be able to produce a final plan shortly.
In the meantime, paediatric patients in need of mental health services are still being seen as normal during the day.