The recruitment of mental health staff and investment in community services must go ahead despite the failure of the Minister for Health to deliver reform and savings in the health service, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Children Robert Troy TD.
It follows a report in the Irish Times which cited unpublished documents detailing concerns that overspending in the HSE could threaten the filling of almost 500 posts in mental health and suicide prevention services.
Deputy Troy commented: “There should be no question of Minister Reilly being allowed to use money set aside for vital investment in mental health to again mask his failure to deliver savings and reform in the health service. Suicide prevention and mental health services are desperately in need of the 477 posts that are to be filled with the promised €35 million investment this year.
“We watched and warned last year as health service spending grew completely out of control, largely because the Minister based his plans on an entirely false budget, but also because Minister Reilly failed to deliver saying in drug costs and is other areas. As a result, money planned for investment in 400 staff for mental health services was diverted to deal with the budget overrun and not all staff have yet been hired.
“This year’s €35 million investment appears to be already delayed. This means it is likely that the additional posts will not be filled until 2014, assuming the funding it not threatened by the €25 million overrun in the HSE already.
“The issue of mental health and suicide prevention is too important for this kind of uncertainty to continually hang over the funding needed for this sector. Either money is being ring-fenced for mental health investment or it is not. It is unacceptable for Minister Reilly’s mismanagement of the health service to be allowed to threaten life-saving community services for people in distress and we will be seeking a commitment from the Government that these positions will be filled and this investment is secure for 2013.”