INCOMING GOVERNMENT MUST PRIORITISE FUNDING AND CAPACITY ISSUES TO MEET GROWING DEMAND FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Monday, 3rd February: The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said today the next government must show genuine commitment to investing in mental health services if the current crisis is to be addressed and the growing demand for services at every level is to be met.
Peter Hughes, General Secretary of the PNA, said with all of the main political parties having now issued their Election Manifestos which acknowledge mental health services as one of the priorities for increased investment within our health services, these election manifesto promises must be followed up with actions in the lifetime of the next government.
“The time for lip service and idle promises on addressing the issues across our mental health services is over. The most glaring example of failed promises has been the lack of progress on the delivery of the Vision for Change (VFC) strategy for mental health services where 14 years after the unveiling of the strategy as the road map for the future, many critical elements of the plan have not been implemented”.
“There is much talk of a ‘refresh’ of Vision for Change ,but the fact that PNA , as one of the key stakeholders in the mental health services, has not been invited to have input into this ‘refresh’ process does not instil confidence that the process will result in meaningful reform and investment. We cannot face into a future where commitments to investment and reform of our mental health system are once again broken and not delivered.”
Mr Hughes said all the political parties need to be fully aware of the glaring gaps in service provision throughout the country which are directly related to under investment in psychiatric services.
He concluded : “The incoming government must appoint a Minister with responsibility for Mental Health who fully understands the extent of the crisis and the enormous pressures that the current inadequate provision of services place on staff, service users , families and indeed the wider community”.
Among the priorities that must be addressed in mental health services are:
Budget for Mental Health
• Systemic failure by successive governments to invest enough in mental health, in 1980’s 16% of overall health budget was allocated to mental health budget, in 2019 it was 6.19% and in 2020 it drops to 6.04%
• Slaintecare recommends 10% of the health budget should go to mental health budget while international best practice recommends 16%.
• 32 children in the first 6 months of 2019 admitted to adult mental health units
• Staffing of CAMHS as per VFC is less than 60% of what is outlined in national policy
• Timely access to CAMHS is poor with 2000 children awaiting a first appointment and 200 waiting more than a year
Governance of Mental Health Nationally
• Removal of National Director for Mental Health has led to a lack of senior executive oversight and accountability of mental health
• The transformation of mental health services must be evidenced based and underpinned by national policy
• As funding is driven from national level and mental health is no longer represented at this level this represents an abject failure by successive governments to prioritise mental health care
Adult mental health services
• Over 700 nursing vacancies with an overreliance on overtime/agency adding additional costs to mental health pay budget
• Lack of strategic workforce plan in terms of mental health nursing
• Low number of ANP’s
• Postcode lottery in the delivery of mental health care especially eating disorders, early intervention psychosis, rehabilitation/recovery (as outlined by MHC) and out of hours care
Intellectual disability services
• Full implementation of Shaping the Future of Intellectual Disability Nursing in Ireland
• Commitment to development of community-based services to support service users and their families/care
• Greater access to respite services
Media Contact: Derek Cunningham 086 2430535