LIMERICK TD Dan Neville has raised concerns over the implementation of changes in mental health services recommended by an expert report carried out in 2006.
Mr Neville, who is president of the Irish Association of Suicidology, was critical of the HSE for the slow pace at which the recommendations are being implemented.
The Fine Gael TD pointed out that in the wake of the publication of the Vision for Change report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, the Government had invested an additional €90 million in mental health over the last three budgets.
“I am disappointed with the roll-out of that money by the HSE. In the first year that it was allocated, recruitment of the extra staff did not commence until the October. I do not know if anyone had been recruited by the end of that year.
“What happened to the €35 million that was allocated? To date of the 2012 figures, there are 395 out of 414 posts, or 96% filled. In 2013, €35 million was allocated for 477 posts but only 326 of these posts have been rolled out. Very little of the €20 million provided for this year has been rolled out in respect of the additional 250 to 280 posts that were to be created,” Mr Neville said.
He added that these posts were very important because they were in community based mental health services and were intended to establish teams of practitioners rather than having an individual professional deal with cases.
“The posts were for psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, family therapists and nurses. A care and recovery plan was to be developed in the community. We have one of the highest rates of in-patient care for mental illness in Europe because of a lack of community based care,” he said.
“The Government announced that it would allocate this money when it came into office. The first thing the HSE should have done was to make plans for its expenditure. When the money rolled in, it should have been ready to publish advertisements rather than wait until May of the first year and then start recruiting in October.”
Mr Neville also described as “completely unacceptable” that children are still being placed in adult psychiatric units. “Some children under ten years old are in adult units, and they may be sharing it with people ranging from 20 years old to 90 years old with various conditions. Children should not be in that position,” he said.