Pat the Cope Gallagher, TD (FF)
Pat the Cope Gallagher, TD, has accused the government of reneging on its promise to provide €35m in funding for mental health services in 2017. He said this is happening at a time when mental health services are under considerable pressure, with many patients failing to avail of support and waiting times growing in length.
“The Minister for Health Simon Harris initially said at budget time that €35m would be invested in mental health services next year. However, less than a week laterm Minister of State for Mental Health Helen McEntee outlined that just €15m of the allocation would be spent in 2017,” outlined Deputy Gallagher.
“The Government has essentially halved the funding earmarked for mental health services next year. This is despite the fact that there has been significant under investment in mental health services in recent years.
"Twice in the last three years the mental health budget has been cut or under spent.
"Staffing levels in child and adolescent services are currently 48% below recommended levels, while staffing levels across the board are 21% below target."
He said he supports the call by the Mental Health Reform for a complete review of the funding allocation for the mental health services in 2017 and for the Government to prioritise mental health services.
The veteran politician added, "Significant work is needed to bring our mental health services up to the standard required and needed to meet demand; this cannot be achieved without adequate funding and genuine support on the part of the Government.
"Currently the Government is planning to increase mental health funding by a measly 1.6% in 2017, as opposed to a 7.4% funding increase across the health sector.
"This clearly shows that mental health services simply are not a priority for Fine Gael.
"I support the call made by Mental Health Reform for an urgent review of funding for mental health services in 2017. The Government should bring forward a multi-annual service plan for the mental health sector in order to achieve this and to specifically ring fence funding for improving health services."