Gardaí have said they are to consider whether there are grounds to commence a criminal investigation into the failures in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in south Kerry, revealed in a review published this week.

They are inviting the families and guardians of children who may have suffered harm to contact them.

They can do so by emailing KY.CAMHSKerry@garda.ie or calling to their local garda station.

In a statement tonight, gardaí said the Divisional Protective Services Unit in Kerry would engage with each family or guardian that comes forward.

"An assessment will be carried out by the specialist team within the Divisional Protective Services Unit to determine whether the complaint reaches the threshold to commence a criminal investigation," the statement issued by the Garda Press Office said.

The statement added that An Garda Siochána "is fully aware of the impact this report has had on a number of families in the Kerry Diviision".

Gardaí in Kerry have confirmed they have received "the detailed and extensive final report" of the independent review, which was published earlier this week.

"[The report] will now be considered in the context of whether there are grounds to commence a criminal investigation," the statement said.

A review into the care of more than 1,300 children who attended the HSE-run CAMHS centre in south Kerry found there was clear evidence that 46 of them suffered significant harm.

The review also found that 227 children being treated by a junior doctor employed by the service had been exposed to the risk of significant harm through the doctor's diagnoses and treatment of them.

Earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that it is the "intent and objective" of Government to put in place a non-adversarial mechanism to compensate those affected by failings in patient care at South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Speaking in Cork this afternoon, Mr Martin said he has had preliminary discussions with the Attorney General about this.

"The report is clear, that harm was done to children and that that needs to be addressed," Mr Martin said.

"We will be looking at a non-adversarial mechanism to deal with this and to address this issue.

"The specifics of that would have to be worked out, but that would be the objective of Government to address these issues in a non-adversarial way," Mr Martin said.

He said that this may involve "a mediated approach or a mediation mechanism" but added that they would look at "a range of mechanisms" to deliver compensation in "the most efficient, effective and empathetic manner possible."

Mr Martin said that there needed to be accountability for what happened.

He said that there would have to be a "full evaluation" both by the HSE and also "from the Government perspective" in relation to clinical and managerial governance, as raised in the report.

"The oversight was certainly questioned by the report, both clinical and managerial, in respect of that whole service. And I think that does need further examination," Mr Martin said.

When asked if disciplinary proceedings may be initiated, the Taoiseach said that there were mechanisms in place to ensure accountability, and he did not want to pre-empt these.

"What emerges from the report is that it is not just about one doctor to be fair, and that is what gives real concern... it took far far too long for intervention to happen," he added.

HSE chief Paul Reid added that he has not yet spoken directly to any of the families affected
(Photo: RollingNews.ie)

Earlier, HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid has said that he was "very grateful" to whistleblowers for bringing attention to matters that need to be addressed.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Reid said while the issue of discipline was not specifically identified in the report, he said they would take such action if it is "appropriate".

"What I can say is we're very grateful for people who come forward to raise issues. It sets off triggers that we really get the chance to operate and get behind," he said.

"If certain things hadn't been raised at that point in time been, unfortunately, things would have continued."

In relation to the legal cases pending arising, Mr Reid said "court proceedings are something the HSE would like to avoid."

"In terms of the harm that's been caused here, the worst thing we could end up doing is causing further harm or distress," he said.

The HSE chief added that he has not yet spoken directly to any of the families affected.

"I haven't yet, but it is my style, as always, to engage very closely with people who use our services and people who are impacted," Mr Reid said.suite of governance issue that have to be addressed. Not so much an individual single issue," he said.

"There is an appropriate time for that. That's something I'd be anxious to do at the appropriate time for families."


Read more: CAMHS Kerry controversy puts spotlight on mental health services nationally


Processes put in place in South Kerry to ensure the safety of patient care at the CAHMS service will be monitored on a national basis, Mr Reid added.

He said that he wanted to assure the public that all 73 CAHMS teams across the country will be assessed against 2019 operating guidelines.

"We are going to assess how the multidisciplinary teams work; What's the process for Records Administration? What's the process for engaging with families and other agencies and schools?

"Right now, our clinical leads on mental health and patient safety are defining the full scope of that audit to support the assessment of prescribing practices."

Mr Reid said one of the issues that always raises itself is accountability, but he stressed that the report calls out "not so much a specific discipline issue with one individual person or people" including the junior doctor.

"They are saying there was a whole suite of governance issue that have to be addressed. Not so much an individual single issue," he said.