Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney TD has criticised the Government’s cynical tactic of delaying the filling of key frontline mental service posts next year in an effort to save money.
Deputy Keaveney commented, “The deeply flawed HSE Service Plan for 2014 is of little comfort to communities that have suffered serious cuts in local mental health services in recent months. In an effort to save money, the Government is further delaying filling frontline posts that should have been filled over the past two years until at least the second half of next year.
“This is nothing short of a disgrace. We have seen this Minister for Health break his promises time and time again and create utter chaos with the health budget since the moment he took up office. Every year he has rowed back on his funding commitments and turned to frontline health services later in the year for more cuts so he can cover his own mistakes.
“The bottom line is that Minister Reilly’s promises are not worth the paper they are written on. He has broken his promise to ring-fence €35 million annually for community mental health services and is only providing €20 million next year. There is also no confidence that he will fill the posts in community mental health services that should have been filled this year at all next year. His decision to delay funding for at least another six months raises alarm bells. While the delays continue, we will see diminished mental services in our communities and people in desperate need of support will suffer the consequences.
“Already this Christmas, Ballinasloe will lose a further 9 beds for patients with mental health difficulties. More beds in this region and in other areas across the country will be forced to close due to a lack of support from Government. Much of the progress made over the past few years in boosting mental health services is now being undone at a time when we as a society can least afford it.
“There is no community that has not been touched by scourge of suicide and no family that has not been affected by mental health difficulties. We as country cannot afford to play games with such a critical issue. We need Minister Reilly to put aside the empty rhetoric and fill these vacant posts without further delay.”