Press Release

Government’s real progress on mental health contrasts with vague FG/Labour promises

“The Government is implementing substantive policies and new spending commitments on mental health”, Minister of State at the Department of Health, Tim O’Malley, T.D. said today.

“There is little new in the Fine Gael-Labour document. Most of the actions are being implemented already and are part of the government’s plans.”

“Since they plan to increase the share of health spending in this one area, they have to say in which areas they would cut the share of health spending – cancer services?, hospitals?, medical cards?

“The Government’s comprehensive approach to mental health is now developing a high quality, community-based mental health service.”

“This year, we have adopted and are investing in a comprehensive policy on mental health – A Vision for Change – over the next 7 to 10 years. It covers child and adult mental health. The policy has been broadly welcomed by patient representatives and mental health professionals. We are taking the actions the experts advise and we are backing these up with resources.”

“This will involve 1,800 new staff being employed. Over €150 million in extra annual funding will be provided.”

Strong record on spending and specialist recruitment

“The Government has nearly trebled spending on mental health. Mental health spending is up from about €326m in 1997 to €835 million this year.”

“This year’s budget includes new funding of €26.2 million in just one year. The HSE will recruit almost 400 new staff in 2006 alone to build the services.”

“We have also achieved a 50% increase in the number of consultant psychiatrists between 1997 and 2005 (from 210 to 308).”

“I have now established an independent Monitoring Group to monitor progress on the implementation of A Vision for Change. The HSE’s own high level Implementation Group has met today and will drive all of the policy actions.”

“This Government has also adopted a new National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention – Reach Out and an extra €1.2m has been allocated to the HSE in 2006 specifically for suicide prevention initiatives. This is only the beginning of funding for the strategy – additional funding will be allocated as the actions under the strategy are implemented.”

“Since 2002 this Government has been actively putting in place modern mechanisms by which the standards, care and treatment in mental health services can be monitored, inspected and regulated.”

“These were set out in the Mental Health Act 2001, and have involved the establishment of the Mental Health Commission and the Office of the Inspector of Mental Health Services. This programme will be completed by the end of this year.”

“Arrangements are already underway for the development of a new Central Mental Hospital.”

“Since 2000

  • The number on inpatient stays has decreased from 4,230 in 2000 to 3,475 in 2005 (18%), showing increased emphasis on community supports.
  • The number of community residences increased from 402 to 418, providing over 217 new placements – a 7% increase (2003 vs. 2000) (2003 last published figures)
  • In 2000, there were 18 acute psychiatric units linked to general hospitals – there are now 24, an increase of 33% (2000 vs. 2005). These help replace care in old-fashioned psychiatric institutions.
  • 83 additional Consultant Psychiatry posts approved, to total 308 – a 37% increase (2006 vs. 2000) including 55% increase (45 to 70) in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Consultant posts.”

Minister O’Malley concluded: “The Government’s actions on mental health are comprehensive and are supported by real increases in resources. This is what substantial health policy is about.”