70% of mental health posts unfilled – Keaveney
Published on: 30 January 2014
413 children with mental health difficulties waiting for over a year for help
FG and Labour failing mental health as demand grows for more resources
Over 70% of posts allocated across the mental health services have not been filled according to information released to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney. The figures also reveal just 30% of posts for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services have been filled.
Deputy Keaveney said: “These are very worrying figures and show our mental health services are stretched to the limit with just 137 or 459 posts filled at the end of November last. At the end of September last, 413 children were over a year on a waiting list for a first appointment. That is 413 children in some level of mental distress waiting over a year to be seen.
“The demand on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is running at 13% above the anticipated level and the information released to me shows that only 24 posts have been filled out of 79 specifically allocated for the CAMHS. This government is cherry picking from ‘A Vision for Change’, selecting aspects that save money and dragging its feet on areas that require extra investment.
“We have seen research published this year by the Royal College of Surgeons which shows that children and young people here in Ireland have a higher rate of mental disorder than elsewhere in Europe or the USA. More and more people are experiencing serious mental health difficulties and the necessary resources are not being invested.
“The Programme for Government committed to ring-fencing €35m a year for mental health but we know this money has been used to plug overruns in other areas of the health budget. This promise was again betrayed in Budget 2014 when the mental health budget was cut by €15m.
“I believe the Government is actively undermining the ethos of ‘A Vision for Change’ which envisaged that service users would be included in policy formation and decisions making. I have received information which effectively the National Service Users Executive is being shut out of the process to the point that they can no longer function.
“I have also met with representatives of Mental Health Reform who are frustrated at the delays in delivering resources for frontline services. The 2014 National Service Plan indicates that certain initiatives, including the appointment of new staff for community mental health teams allocated for 2013 and 2014, will be “specifically targeted towards the latter half of 2014 to allow … savings to be utilised on specific services on a timing delayed basis.” This is simply not good enough. We cannot tolerate a situation where the promised 250-280 new mental health staff is delayed, along with unfilled posts outstanding from 2013, is put on the long finger.
“The crisis in mental health in Ireland is worsening its having a real human cost. Minister Lynch and the Government need to step up the mark and deliver the resources needed, particularly for young people.”