Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health, Disability and Special Needs, Colm Keaveney says the 2013 annual report from the Mental Health Commission proves Minister Kathleen Lynch is out of touch if she thinks mental health services are adequately resourced.
The report has criticised the HSE for its delay in filling mental health posts, with over half the positions not being taken up. The report raises further concerns about the Vision for Change recommendations being implemented unevenly and inconsistently throughout the country.
He commented: “The Mental Health Commission Annual Report puts in writing the concerns and evidence I and many others have repeatedly been raising with Minster Kathleen Lynch. Minister Lynch has contented herself with hiding behind various reports and saying there is no problem with resources.
“The report directly contradicts what Minister Lynch has been saying. There is a problem with resources and it is being borne out by less than half the psychiatric hospitals and mental health facilities complying with staffing levels.
“On top of this only 60% of these facilities are meeting guidelines for individual care plans for patients. Minster Lynch is out of touch is she thinks this is an acceptable use of resources.
“The undoubted improvements that have been made in mental health services across the country since the ‘A Vision For Change’ strategy was introduced seven years ago are in danger of being reversed. Paying lip service to mental health is not good enough anymotr. The framework is there to adequately address the problems associated with mental health services but we are not backing this up with a commitment to implement the required changes.
“In some instances, there is an issue with attitude and a reluctance to change work practices. This must come from the top down and an example needs to be set by HSE management, which seems to be lacking. Frontline staff say they are working under extreme pressure, demand for services is increasing but a similar investment in resources is lacking.
“Minster Lynch needs to immediately address all the issues raised in this report. The evidence suggests she is not listening to frontline staff. Nine prominent consultant psychiatrists wrote to Minster Lynch 14 months ago raising concerns about the mental health service provision. They received no response and have now withdrawn their support for the Clinical Management System, which is a considerable blow to the service.
“I am urging the Minister to change her approach and start listening to the frontline staff that have been charged with implementing the underfunded and under resourced services. Without the co-operation of staff, the mental health service provided to so many thousands of people is doomed to fail.”