Sir, – Mental Health Reform shares the concerns about the current lack of multidisciplinary staff for community mental health teams expressed by Dr Aisling Denihan (January 7th).
What does it say about Ireland’s commitment to providing good-quality mental healthcare that, almost 30 years after it became government policy to provide multidisciplinary community mental health services, we are hearing that one team has been waiting 10 years for a psychologist and occupational therapist to be allocated?
Almost seven years have passed since the publication of the current mental health policy A Vision for Change, which reiterated this policy and recommended the development of community-based mental health teams for adults comprising psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists, alongside psychiatrists and nurses, and similar teams for children and adolescents, with the additional support of childcare workers and speech and language therapists.
Despite the commitment in the budget in December 2011 to appoint 414 staff for community mental health in 2012, it is disappointing to note that as of December 31st , 2012, just 54 people had taken up positions.
Even if all 414 posts had been filled, the gap in overall staffing levels is estimated at almost four times this amount (1,500 posts) by the Independent Monitoring Group charged with tracking progress towards A Vision for Change.
In Budget 2013, a further €35 million was committed for additional staffing in 2013.
The HSE needs to prioritise appointment of the staff for 2013 as soon as possible, in order to avoid the damaging staffing delays and unplanned funding cuts seen last year. – Yours, etc,
Mental Health Reform,