Published date: 26 Jul 2023

‘Postcode lottery’ determining children’s access to mental health services according to damning Independent Review

Today (26.07.2023), the Mental Health Commission published its Independent Review of the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Responding to the final report, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said:

“At a time where children and young people need the support of mental health services more than ever, the Report by Dr Finnerty is a disturbing read. Inconsistent, inefficient and unsafe are the last words we want to hear when describing our healthcare system and yet, that is the reality for the provision of mental health services to children and young people in this country.”

“A ‘postcode lottery’ determines a child or young person’s access to mental health care and support, rather than need. The unacceptable degree of inconsistency results in a splintered CAMHS service that is failing to meet the needs of children and young people,” said Tanya Ward.

“In January, the Commission’s interim report was a red flag to Government on the significant shortcomings that were being unearthed in a review of the CAMHS services. The final report published today lays bare those concerns and contains 49 recommendations for action. It is alarming to hear that the Inspectorate cannot give assurance to children and families that they will get the support they need and they deserve, within the current system. We need assurance from Government that this will not be a report left to sit on the shelf. We need to see an immediate response and action to address the concerns raised.”

“While we recognise the excellent care and treatment delivered to some children and their families, good services and positive outcomes are not a shared experience. The services are completely stretched thin with the vast majority of services found to be significantly understaffed. The HSE needs to think outside of CAMHS and consider alternative ways of delivering healthcare to ensure the children that need support the most, have access to it, regardless of where they live. The Review also gives cause for a renewed focus on how the State is delivering healthcare to children who face increased difficulties accessing supports for example, the Traveller Community, asylum seekers, refugees and migrants (including those in Direct Provision), children in care and young LGBTI people,” continued Tanya Ward.

“In the first instance, the governance and oversight of the services need serious improvement. These services need to be standardised to ensure equal opportunity to access quality healthcare. We support the call for the immediate introduction of legislation to provide for the independent regulation of CAMHS by the Mental Health Commission as recommended by Dr Finnerty. We need to see a comprehensive strategy for children’s mental health services put in place with a ringfenced annual budgets.” concluded Tanya Ward.

_ ENDS _

Emma Archbold, Campaigns and Communication Director, Children’s Rights Alliance:  [email protected]e or 087 997 1410

Notes to Editors:

  • Children’s Rights Alliance spokespeople are available for comment.
  • Mental Health Commission Independent Review is available here.

About the Children’s Rights Alliance:
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 145 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL


For media queries, please contact:

Emma Archbold

Campaigns and Communications Director