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The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said today (Monday 7th August) that new figures from the Health Service Executive on staffing in the mental health services  confirm  the lack of progress by the Government in the implementation of  the Vision for Change strategy – the blueprint for the development of mental health services which was launched over ten years ago.

Peter Hughes, PNA General Secretary, said the confirmation in PQ replies to Fianna Fail’s Deputy James Brown that there is still a shortfall in staffing of almost 2000 to meet the targets for service delivery as set out in Vision for Change highlight the shamefully inadequate progress in the implementation of what was to be the model for total reform of mental health services.

‘Despite commitment after commitment from various Ministers for Health and Ministers  of State for Mental Health the full implementation of Vison for Change, particularly with regard to the recruitment of staff, remains as aspirational as it was at its high profile launch a decade ago.  The HSE figures reveal that only 93 new staff were recruited this year despite soaring demand in all areas of the mental health services and the HSE’s own admission that 1,963 new posts have to be filled if the level of staffing required in Vision for Change is to be achieved.‘

‘Unfortunately , the latest HSE figures on the shortfall in staffing in the mental health services confirm  the findings of the joint PNA /RCSI Study published last year  on the ten years of Vison for Change which concluded  that key elements have not been implemented and a promised move to community based mental health services has not been achieved. That study showed that only 30% of the planned community services have been put in place despite a 60% reduction in beds in mental health.’

‘Recruitment and retention of mental health nurses  was, and remains, central to the transformation of mental health services and without a firm political will by Government and  commitment from the HSE to recruit more nurses then addressing the chronic need for extra community based mental health services, crisis intervention services and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services will be impossible.’

Mr Hughes concluded :‘The hope promised in Vison for Change for a radically reformed mental health service is being lost and the HSE must now acknowledge that without a renewed effort on recruitment and retention of nurses  then services will continue to fail to meet the demands on them. ‘

Media Contact : Derek Cunningham 086-2430535

NOTE TO EDITORS: HSE figures in PQ reply (17th July) to Dep. James Browne PQ Number 34363/17
Current Staffing (excluding indirect staff but including staff recruitment and the Programme for Government) 10,815
Vision for Change Staffing 12,778
Gap between current and Vision 1,963
Estimated Cost based on average staff payment of €65,000 (including PRSI and related costs) €127,595,000