While welcoming the publication of the HSE 2013 National Service Plan, Mental Health Reform has today (10/01/13) said that the HSE’s budgetary constraints cannot be allowed to undermine the Government’s commitment to investing €35million in mental health services in 2013.
The Service Plan spells out how the Budget 2013 commitment to investing an additional €35million for the development of mental health services in 2013 will be spent. 477 new staff are to be appointed using the €35million promised for 2013. The Service Plan also commits to completing the appointment of the 414 staff committed in Budget 2012, which has been inexcusably delayed to date.
Mental Health Reform Director Orla Barry commented: “we welcome the assurance from HSE Director General Designate Tony O’Brien that appointment of new staff for mental health services will be fast tracked. The delay in appointing the promised staff for 2012 was disappointing and we hope that no such delay will be allowed to occur this year. Mental health services have seen an overall decline in staffing numbers since this time last year, with a drop of over 400 staff during 2012, so the prompt appointment of all of the promised new staff is a matter of urgency. We are concerned by the announcement in the Service Plan of a planned reduction of at least 102 acute inpatient beds. Such a reduction cannot happen until adequate community services are in place.”
“We note the acknowledgement by the HSE that delays in implementation of the 2012 Plan were the result of budgetary pressures. It is concerning that the €35 million investment planned for 2013 is ‘subject to affordability’. We need a clear message from the HSE and the Government that there is real commitment to investing €35 million this year. Otherwise there is a risk that mental health funding will once again be siphoned off and used to shore up deficits in other areas of the HSE.”
“We are pleased to see attention being paid to specialist mental health services for forensics, for older people and for people with intellectual disabilities – areas that have historically been neglected. The decision to invest in an information technology system for mental health is also extremely important and is a positive step towards having reliable, national information on community-based adult mental health service delivery and outcomes. This gap to date has prevented stakeholders from assessing improvement in the mental health services. Finally, we welcome the move to invest €2.5million in the National Counselling Service and we once again urge that this service be extended to people on low incomes and not only to those with a medical card”, Ms. Barry continued.
“Mental Health Reform would like to thank Minister for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch for her continuing efforts to prioritise improved mental health services and to work towards the implementation of A Vision for Change”, Ms. Barry concluded.