Thursday 13 th February : The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said today that real and substantial actions to address the crisis in mental health services must be a central part of any Programme for Government to be negotiated in the formation of the next government.

Peter Hughes, General Secretary of the PNA, said that during the election campaign all of the political parties had made much of their commitments to investment in mental health services in order to address the crisis that has left services struggling to meet demand at every level.

He said: “Politicians and party election manifestos across the board acknowledged mental health services as one of the priorities for increased investment within our health services. It is time for these commitments on mental health to be honoured and acted on. We must see mental health services being addressed seriously in an agreed Programme for Government.

“The time for lip service and idle promises on addressing the critical issues across our mental health services is over. We must see real evidence of a renewed determination to address the under-investment and glaring gaps in service provision throughout the country which are putting enormous pressures on staff, service users, families and indeed the wider community.”

The PNA has identified the mental health priorities that must be included in any Programme for Government:

Budget for Mental Health

  • Sláintecare recommends 10% of the health budget should go to mental health services while international best practice recommends 16%.
  • The incremental decline of the mental health budget as a percentage of the overall health budget (which has dropped from 16% during the 1980's to 6.04% in 2020 ) must be reversed.

CAMHS Services

  • There must be an end to the practice of children being admitted to adult mental health units. There were 32 children in the first 6 months of 2019 admitted to adult units.
  • Staffing of CAMHS must be addressed. Currently staffing is less than 60% of what was proposed in Vision for Change.
  • There must be timely access to CAMHS. Currently there are 2,000 children awaiting a first appointment and 200 waiting for more than a year

Governance of Mental Health Nationally

  • Re-appointment of a National Director for Mental Health to give senior executive oversight and accountability for mental health services delivery.
  • The transformation of mental health services must be evidenced-based and underpinned by national policy.

Adult mental health services

  • The staff shortage in mental health must be addressed. There are over 700 nursing vacancies with an overreliance on overtime/agency adding additional costs to the mental health service pay budget.
  • A strategic workforce plan for mental health nursing must be put in place.
  • It is recognised by those working in the homeless sector that mental health difficulties and distress are to the forefront for this population. It is imperative that mental health teams are developed to deliver a comprehensive, holistic mental health service for these citizens.
  • The low number of ANP's must be urgently addressed.
  • Concerted action to end what is in effect a ‘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/carers.
  • An urgent strategy to meet the need nationally for greater access to respite services.

Media Contact : Derek Cunningham 086 2430535

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