Fianna Fáil has accused the Government of failing utterly in its commitments on mental health, as new figures show that 3,000 vulnerable children are currently waiting for mental health services.

The party’s Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney has demanded an immediate statement from Minister Kathleen Lynch explaining why she failed to spend her allocated budget last year, while 76% of frontline posts promised for last year alone remained unfilled.

“It is becoming very clear that the failure to fill the frontline posts promised under A Vision for Change is not down to just bad mismanagement by the Minister.  It is a far more sinister strategy aimed at giving the impression that spending is under control.  The only conclusion is that the filling of these posts is being deliberately delayed. In short, mental health services are being sacrificed to help cover the gross mismanagement of the overall health budget,” said Deputy Keaveney.

“There are now 1,000 less frontline mental health posts than there were when this Government took up office in 2011.  Just 24% of the frontline posts promised last year have been filled.  The Minister has failed to spend the €35m annually that was ring-fenced for the recruitment of specialised community mental health teams. The failure to spend this special fund year on year is a major reason for the collapse in services. In addition to this, in 2013 there was €46.8m allocated to mental health that went completely unspent despite the record demand for services. There is absolutely no excuse for this.

“While the Minister clearly remains focussed on accounting rather than patients, waiting lists have spiralled out of control and people who desperately need mental health supports are being forced to wait often over a year for the support they need.  Our psychiatric services are in crisis and senior clinicians in a number of parts of the country have raised grave concerns publicly about a lack of suitable beds for people with severe mental health difficulties.  And the Government is doing absolutely nothing.

“We need to hear from Minister Lynch immediately.  The excuse of celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Moscow won’t wash on this occasion.  The Minister is already missing a WHO Ministerial conference on dementia as a result of this trip and failed to send any representative.  It’s time for the Minister to get her priorities right. We have a crisis in our mental health services are in crisis and it is costing lives.”