A Fermanagh mother, who described her daughter’s life as “hanging in the balance”, has paid more than £3,000 in private medical costs after being told by the Western Health and Social Care Trust that waiting times for an assessment of ADHD and autism was over 18 months.

The mother, who does not want to be named to protect the identity of her daughter, told The Impartial Reporter that mental health services in the Trust are “chronically underfunded” and “not fit for purpose”.

“We began to see issues with our daughter at the end of her second year in secondary school, which would have been in 2018. By November we were referred by school psychologist to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service), as she thought our daughter was showing traits of ADHD” the mother explained to The Impartial Reporter.

“Christmas came and went; things were getting worse. The child was in and out of hospital, was self-harming. She didn’t see any sort of life ahead for herself and seen herself as nothing but difficult. I couldn’t wait any longer, the child was deteriorating in front of our eyes. But when I contacted CAMHS about getting an assessment done they told me it would be 18 months at least.”

At this point the family was at breaking point and fearful of the future.

“I just wanted to get my daughter seen, both myself and my husband wanted some help for her and we decided to go private and when we did that the doctor told us that they felt as well as ADHD that our daughter may be on the autistic spectrum.”

After the initial assessment the family paid for a private diagnosis and their daughter was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum and having ADHD. The total cost of these assessments comes close to £2,000.

“It really is not good enough. Families should not be forced to go private to get a diagnosis for their child,” the mother stated.

If the family thought that having a diagnosis would now help their daughter get the help that she needed they were wrong as they were faced with another long wait.

“CAMHS had been kept informed through every step of our daughter’s journey. All the correspondence from our private consultant was sent to CAMHS as well, so she is well known to them. I wanted to know what services were open to her. To see if we could get some therapy for her to help her but I was told that there was 180 something children ahead of her and that the wait would be another 18 months. It is just unbearable,” the mother explained.

The young girl is now on medication and the family have to spend £220 every time they get her medication reviewed and on top of that they had also paid for private counselling for her daughter.

“I am so angry about this. The waiting lists for assessment and then the waiting list therapy is just terrible and there doesn’t seem to be anything being done to try and address this problem,” the mother concluded.

The Impartial Reporter revealed in September that during the past two years the number of children waiting for an autism assessment has almost doubled, from 487 to 827.

At the time a spokeswoman for the Trust said: “The Trust apologises for the length of time waiting for both assessment and intervention and is committed in its efforts to reduce waiting times and enhance service provision for children with a diagnosis of Autism and their families across the Western Trust area.”