Over 2,400 additional staff are needed in mental health services if the level of care proposed in the 2006 Vision for Change policy is to be provided.

That’s according to HSE figures provided to Fianna Fáil’s Mental Health spokesperson James Browne. Meanwhile, the HSE’s Employment Report reveals an increase of just 34 staff in mental health services between December last year and October 2019.

“Thirteen years on from A Vision for Change, the number of staff in our mental health services is falling well short of what is recommended. The HSE estimates that some 12,354 staff are required but just 9,933 are in place – that’s a gap of 2,421”, said Deputy Browne.

“If we were to meet the recommended staffing levels it would see 10% of all health service staff working within the mental health services – a benchmark that many mental health campaigners would welcome. The additional €194 million cost would mean mental health expenditure equivalent to just over 7% of the health budget.

“The figures show extraordinary regional variations in the levels of staff. CHO 7, (Kildare, West Wicklow, Dublin West, Dublin South West and Dublin South City) has less than half the staff required. The South East (CHO 6) has just over half but CHO 2 (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon) has almost 13% more than what was recommended under A Vision for Change. This does not strike me as evidence of good workforce planning.

“The figures are clear proof that Fine Gael is not taking mental health seriously, and Budget 2020 did nothing to address this shortfall. An updated Vision for Change policy is expected soon, and I would be greatly concerned that this government of excuses will simply give up the ghost on the ambition set out in the original policy.”