Unacceptable that mental health funds continue to prop up other areas in the health service- Mental Health Reform.
Mental Health Reform believes that it is unacceptable that funding for mental health continues to prop up other areas of the health service.
According to a report in today’s Irish Times Minister Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State with responsibility for mental health, has learned from Department of Health and HSE officials that €12 million of the €35 million ring-fenced for development of mental health care in budget 2016 was being diverted to other areas of the health service.
Commenting on the news the Director of Mental Health Reform Dr Shari McDaid said the diversion of any mental health funding was unacceptable and should not be tolerated.
“Ring-fenced funding for mental health should not be viewed as a pot of money to prop up other areas of the health service. It doesn’t show parity of esteem between mental and physical health and proves that we still have a struggle on our hands to ensure mental health is taken seriously and given the priority it deserves,” said Dr McDaid.
This is the second time already this year that mental health funding has been unfairly targeted. While other areas of the health service received additional funds to deal with pressures, mental health did not. Yet now we learn that the funds that were to be ring-fenced for new developments in mental health are to be diverted to other areas.
The 2016 HSE Service plan provides additional funding for a number of areas such as acute hospitals, disability and primary care to deal with unfunded costs brought forward from 2015, but there is no such additional funding for mental health.
While other so-called “politically sensitive” areas of the health service will receive additional funds this year to deal with service pressures, mental health is expected to deal with these pressures from within existing funds.
According to the 2016 HSE Service Plan : “The underlying cost pressures faced by mental health services (including increases to consultant pay scales, the cost of increments, unavoidable agency costs, and emergency placements) will be dealt with in 2016 from within the current base”.
According to Dr McDaid: “the diversion of funds does not recognise the huge ground that still needs to be made up in the mental health services in terms of staffing; e.g. we are still at only 75 per cent of required staffing recommended in the national mental health policy ‘A Vision for Change’; and there are some areas of the mental health service which have been largely ignored such as the mental health of homeless people, of people with intellectual disability, and maternal mental health. There is not the spare capacity within mental health services to take care of over-runs in other parts of the health service.”
About Mental Health Reform
Mental Health Reform is the national coalition promoting improved mental health services and the social inclusion of people with mental health difficulties. The coalition currently has 54 members. See www.mentalhealthreform.ie/membership/ for more details. Mental Health Reform acknowledges the support of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s Scheme to Support National Organisations 2014-2016.
For more information please contact:
Communications and Campaigns Office,
Mental Health Reform,
Tel: 086 171 1920
Tel: 01 874 9468