Mother entitled to candid disclosure     on son’s treatment

There is nothing more precious to us than our own children. And when things go wrong in the way they are treated – by anybody, including medical professionals – we want, AND are entitled to, answers that are delivered in an open, candid and timely manner.

This week, a mother tells Kerry’s Eye how her eight-year-old son received medication that was TEN times more than originally intended, arising from contact the child had with the HSE’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, CAMHS.

Our Chief Reporter, Aidan O’Connor, this week reports how the child’s file was examined as part of a huge investigation by the HSE into how Kerry children and teenagers were treated by CAMHS, the community-based mental health service for children between the ages of five and 18. Now the files of 1,500 children, covering 2016 to 2020, have been examined.

It’s entirely unsurprising – and entirely right – that this boy’s mother wants answers to the many questions that must be causing her the most extraordinary concern. Last month, the HSE wrote to the boy’s mother saying there had been ‘no adverse outcome’ in the case of her child and urged her to continue to engage with the CAMHS.

After raising her concerns on a HSE helpline, she was given a meeting, presumably so that she could put her queries to people who were in a position to answer them. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

And this is the most troubling thing about the HSE. The nation’s healthcare agency seems completely unable to anticipate what may have been expected of them in the circumstances of a meeting with this boy’s mother.

Why couldn’t they have had all the relevant medical professionals present at that meeting to address the obvious issues?

There are particular matters of personal concern to this mother and her child. They need to be confronted. She wants to know why, in the first place, her boy was prescribed medicine before even a diagnosis had been reached. Was any other type of treatment considered?

It’s clear that the HSE needs to undergo a fundamental culture change in how it handles actual and/or claimed mistakes. A national healthcare service is constantly required to manage the results of errors – from the most trivial, right up to catastrophic life-changing events, including deaths.

The HSE needs to alter course – it needs to be more open and frank. It needs to show more respect to those negatively impacted by care that was below the standard required.