Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue says the mental health budget must be increased so that services can be improved and developed.

Fianna Fáil raised the issue during Private Members Business in the Dáil this week.

Deputy McConalogue explained, “There has been significant under investment in mental health services over the past five years, which has led to serious backlogs in waiting lists and problems accessing services.  The current system of allocating funding year on year has to be changed and multi-annual budgeting introduced.  This would allow for the proper provision and development of mental health services.

“Improving mental health services is a key priority for Fianna Fáil and we negotiated a commitment in the Confidence & Supply agreement with Fine Gael that “A Vision for Change” would be fully implemented.  However, in order to do this, funding will have to be increased.

“The future of mental health services cannot be allowed to fall off the government agenda.  If there is just €15m in new funding available it will not be enough and could jeopardise current service levels.

“We urgently need to address staff shortages within the health sector.  Posts are being left vacant for months, and in some cases, years and this is having a major impact on waiting lists and assessment programmes.

“Fianna Fáil is calling on the Government to set out how exactly it intends on achieving full implementation of the country’s mental health strategy. We have made it clear that mental health spending can’t be put on the backburner, so it’s time for Fine Gael and their Independent colleagues to spell out their plan for mental health services”.