Massive shortfall in permanent psychiatrist posts – Browne

Published on: 03 August 2019

Fianna Fáil Mental Health Spokesperson James Browne has said the Irish mental health service will continue to struggle until the number of permanent psychiatric consultant positions increases.

Deputy Browne said the lack of permanent psychiatrists is restricting timely access to much needed services for patients and adding to the unbearably long waiting times experienced by patients across Ireland.

“Recently, I received information from the HSE that shows that just 302 out of 456 psychiatrist posts are filled on a permanent basis.

“Some 62 posts are vacant or ‘unmatched’ according to the HSE while another 100 posts are filled on a temporary basis.

“These figures are compounded by the fact that Ireland has in any case just half the EU average for Consultant Psychiatrists with 6 per 100,000 of population so we are struggling simply to maintain an already low base.

“There can be little or no doubt that the 2012 pay cut for consultants is having an impact as it is in other areas of the health service. The Minister for Health knows this but has yet to take any action. The Government has moved to phase out FEMPI for General Practitioners. It is past time that action was taken on consultants.

“The fact of the matter is that we have been experiencing a high vacancy rate for psychiatrists for some years now. For example, of the 44 Consultant Psychiatrist posts advertised in 2015 and 2016, almost a quarter had no applicants, while 30% had only one applicant.

“There is also a strong case for more psychiatrists to be trained. In 2018, the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland sought a 10% increase in basic specialist training but only got half what was needed.

“Unless the deficit in psychiatry is tackled, our mental health services will continue to struggle. It is crucial that the government moves to address this issue,” concluded Browne.

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