The ward closure in St Brendan’s is a sign of the seriousness the impact of the staff moratorium is having on the mental health services, national umbrella organisation for mental health, Mental Health Reform, has said. The group called for an exemption of the moratorium as well as funding to restore lost posts in the mental health services.
While Minister Howlin, in his public expenditure speech last Monday, announced an additional €35 million for the development of community mental health services, mental health is also subject to a 2% efficiency saving as well as all other cuts that are hitting the health services in general.
The group now warns that the €35 million investment cannot make up for cuts of this extent.
“The mental health services in Ireland are under severe pressure which is ever increasing due to rising unemployment and financial worries. The system is already on its knees. While we welcome the announcement of €35 million for the development of community mental health services, this will not make up for cuts of this extent”, Director of Mental Health Reform, Orla Barry said.
“What is happening in St Brendan’s shows the need for national planning in mental health; It is a sign that a Director for Mental Health with control of the full mental health budget must be appointed as a matter of urgency to ensure that the €35 million actually go where they are supposed to go. It seems that this is a case of taking from Peter to give to Paul and that cannot be the solution to the serious problems that are facing our mental health services at this time”, Ms Barry concluded.
Mental Health Reform’s Main Points:
- Mental Health has suffered disproportionately – 20% of staff losses incurred in the HSE came from mental health, while the care group only makes up 9% of staff.
- The moratorium must be lifted in mental health to allow for retiring staff to be replaced by the staff necessary to provide the range of services that allow people with mental health difficulties to recover.
- €35 million additional money ring-fenced for the development of community mental health teams are welcome, but must be protected and cannot make up for huge cuts in other areas of mental health.
- A national Directorate for Mental Health must be set up with full accountability and control of the full mental health budget to ensure equitable services across the country.