At a meeting of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Policy and Resources Committee this month it emerged that the Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board, Ms Valerie Watts, is to step down in the near future.

The Council had hoped to arrange a meeting with Ms Watts to discuss the provision of mental health services for children within the district.

However, Robert Irvine informed the meeting that at a meeting of the Western commissioning group that he had attended it was revealed that Ms Watts was stepping down from her role.

As a result, the Council have agreed to instead, take up an offer from the Health and Social Care Board to meet with a senior member of staff from the Directorate of Social Care and Children.

Proposing the meeting Independent councillor, Donal O’Cofaigh stated:

“In regard to the meeting, given the uncertainty over the Chief Executive status and given the pressing nature we should go for a meeting with someone else as quickly as possible. We can then look to meet with whoever replaces the chief executive.”

Councillor John McClaughry, UUP, agreed with Councillor O’Cofaigh about the need to meet a health official as soon as possible:

“This was raised to particularly address the issue of staffing around CAMHS and other youth facilities... If there is uncertainty then we are just going to have to meet with the next best person and address our concerns to them.”

Adam Gannon, SDLP, seconded Councillor O’Cofaigh’s motion to accept the meeting with a staff member from the Directorate of Social Care and Children.

“This is really urgent. It is really important that we get something addressed as soon as possible. Young people are really struggling and it is a massive issue. We all know someone who has struggled with mental health, indeed some of us in this chamber may have struggled with mental health, and we should be doing everything in our power to try and address it.”

There was unanimous support in the chamber for the proposal.