Up to 2,000 new staff need to be recruited in mental health services if the Government is to achieve goals for improved services in Ireland, according to Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher Leas Cheann Comhairle.
The Fianna Fáil TD said just 93 new mental health staff were hired this year, which is below target figures required in the government’s “A Vision for Change” strategy.
Pat the Cope has said mental health needs to be a priority for Government in the forthcoming budget.
Pat the Cope said: “The new figures were released to me by Fianna Fáil Mental Health Spokesperson James Browne revealed that while 1,963 additional posts need to be filled to comply with the 2006 strategy, only 93 additional staff have been hired in 2017 to date which is well short of what is required by the service.
“This is at a time when Mental Health services are under considerable pressure due to demands placed on them, with many other patients waiting to be seen for prolonged periods or others just not being referred at all due to staff shortages.”
Pat the Cope added “When launched in 2006, ‘A Vision for Change’ marked a radical break from the previous approach to mental health care. At its heart is a recovery based model, which promotes a partnership approach and one centred on the person’s capacity to lead a fulfilling life and normal life.
“But, in order to deliver on that commitment extra staff and resources will be required but thus far the Government has failed to provide the necessary investment and additional staffing which are necessary to deliver the desired service level required by the patients.”
“However, eleven years on, the number of staff in the system is falling well short of what is recommended. The HSE estimates that some 12,778 posts are required; however, there are only 10,815 currently in the system – leaving a shortfall of 1,963.
“I am seriously concerned with the slow pace at which the HSE is recruiting. Just 93 new posts have been filled so far in 2017. Furthermore, the new positions filled this year were clearly approved in previous years.
“Not one position has been filled on the basis of the €15 million allocation for 2017, and in the context of the under spend in mental health in 2016’s budget there is a clear failure to adequately provide and manage the mental health budget, this matter I have raised on previous occasions with the Department.
“The fact is that at this rate of increase it will take another 11 years for “A Vision for Change” to be implemented in full and that is a totally farcical situation.
“The Government and the HSE need to up their game on this to tackle the issues head on.
“Over the past three budgets there has been a failure to ring-fence the mental health budget, to prioritise staff recruitment and the securing of additional resources,” concluded Pat the Cope.