The HSE says the position at St Anne's will be filled by June
CONCERNS have been expressed over the lack of a vital clinical psychologist at a city mental health hospital for nearly 10 months.
The post at St Anne’s Hospital, on Roxboro Road, has been left vacant since August due to a “long term illness” and will not be filled until the end of June, a spokesperson for the HSE said.
The facility, which saw 2,173 clients in 2016, provides follow-on care for former 5B inpatients, as well as new outpatients, aged 18 to 65.
Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan told the Limerick Leader this week that a constituent alerted him of the issue, as their child “was not getting the services” because the psychologist was absent.
“And I understand that 14 others have been left in the same situation. Obviously, they have been diagnosed and need their regular counselling, and they are not getting it,” he said, adding that he was “very concerned” about the issue.
“We seem to have instances where somebody is off or sick, but they don’t seem to be replaced. It’s not good enough.
“You don’t go to counselling unless you have to go. And we have a huge problem with mental health, suicide, across the city and across the region,” he said.
The HSE told the Leader that “any emergency or high priority referrals are referred to the remaining psychologist” at St Anne’s Hospital.
However, Deputy Quinlivan said that a locum clinical psychologist should be at the facility in the interim, “especially when it is specialised work”.
When the Limerick Leader questioned Minister of State for Mental Health, Helen McEntee about this issue, she said that it is a “worldwide” deficit with clinical psychologists and child and mental health psychologists.
“There is a shortage worldwide, so we are obviously doing everything that we can to try and attract them to Ireland and keep them here,” she said.
Minister of State McEntee, after the launch of the Connecting for Life Mid-West three-year strategy last week, said that one of the “biggest challenges and one of the biggest difficulties that we have is recruitment and retention of staff”.