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Long wait times for psychiatric care. Up to 2,000 days

Long wait times for psychiatric care. Up to 2,000 days

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Konrad SiwikKonrad Siwik,04.09.2023 12:45

The GrowSPACE Foundation revealed the data regarding long wait times for a child psychiatry visit via the National Health Fund in Poland. On average, children and young people wait around 238 days for an appointment. The disgraceful record of 2,441 days waiting time belongs to a public health centre in Będzin.

The GrowSPACE Foundation collected data from the National Health Fund (Polish: Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia, NFZ, public healthcare in Poland financed by compulsory health insurance) in the last week of August. It concerns the estimated wait times for a visit to a child psychiatrist via public healthcare. Information from all outpatient clinics, counselling centres, hospitals and social welfare centres in Poland that offer such consultations was analysed.

The data shows the collapse of child psychiatry from the perspective of parents and their children. In five facilities across the country, the waiting time exceeds 1,000 days. These are outpatient clinics in the Pomorskie, Śląskie and Mazowieckie voivodeships. On top of this, the average waiting time for a consultation with a child psychiatrist in Poland is 238 days.

Average waiting time for a child psychiatrist appointment in Poland
Average waiting time for a child psychiatrist appointment in Poland (Materiały prasowe)

6 years waiting time for an appointment with a child psychiatrist

The most shocking record was set in Będzin. It is there that in order to get a NFZ consultation with a child psychiatrist at the Therapy and Psychoeducation Centre "Kompas" one has to wait as long as 2441 days. The first planned visit to a specialist is therefore possible on 6 May 2030.

"This shows the enormous drama for children, young people and their parents, who will realistically not be able to access appropriate help. After all, if a child is, for example, 12 years old now, by the time he or she gets an appointment in Będzin, they would already be too old to qualify for a child psychiatrist. Any given family is not able to get adequate help there. Of course, in the case of a huge life-threatening crisis an ambulance can be called, but this will not solve the cause of the problems," comments Dominik Kuc of the GrowSPACE Foundation.

Apart from the facility in Bedzin, there are four other places in the country with a waiting time of more than 1,000 days. These are:

  • SPOZ Jan Bogdanowicz Children's Hospital in Warsaw - approximately 1155 days,
  • SPZOZ Warszawa Wola - Śródmieście - approximately 1647 days,
  • Early Intervention Centre - Pilicka 21 in Warsaw - approximately 1191 days,
  • and Optimmed Mental Health Centre in Gdańsk - approximately 1445 days.

On a national scale, it is the Pomeranian and Silesian voivodeships that perform the worst. In Pomerania, the average waiting time for a consultation with a child psychiatrist is 411.15 days, and in Silesia it is 512.85 days.

Poland has a shortage of child psychiatrists

There is a desperate shortage of child psychiatrists in Poland. There are only 555 of them in the whole country as of 2023, which means there is one specialist for approximately 12400 of all children up to the age of 18. The waiting times are obviously influenced by the huge number of young people who need help and the small number of child psychiatrists.

However, according to the GrowSPACE Foundation, these are not the only factors.

"The lack of action from the Ministry of Health is devastating. It boasted in February this year that it had opened two additional day child psychiatry day wards as part of suicide prevention since 2020. That is, two wards in three years. The largest scale of neglect concerns care in the young person's everyday environment, such as school. Long ‘queues’ could be avoided if psycho-education entered schools, if a psychologist was provided in every institution and if young people could count on help at the first stage of a mental health crisis," explains Dominik Kuc from the GrowSPACE Foundation.

"The lack of a legislation concerning psychological profession is also having a side effect, because children and young people who need, for instance, a document confirming an autism spectrum disorder, have to go to a psychiatrist anyway. A psychologist alone cannot issue such a document," concludes the activist.

Source: Press release

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