Press Release

Response by Minister O’Malley to comments made by the Irish Psychiatric Association regarding the implementation of “A Vision for Change”

Mr Tim O’Malley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, with special responsibility for Mental Health Services, today (24th January, 2007) refuted criticisms made by the Irish Psychiatric Association and mental health groups regarding the implementation of “A Vision for Change”, the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy. The Minister said “The Government is committed to the full implementation of “A Vision for Change” and has accepted the Report as the basis for the future development of our mental health services. The assertions made by the Association do not stand up, and ignore what has been done in a short period of time.”

He stated “The Government has almost trebled expenditure on mental health from €326m in 1997 to €835m in 2006. We have already allocated a total of €51 million additional funding for 2006 and 2007 to implement “A Vision for Change”. This is one third of the total funding estimated by the Expert Group to fully implement the mental health strategy over 7 years. Additional front line professional posts have also been approved in line with the recommendations of the Expert Group.”

Referring to the closure of public psychiatric hospitals, “A Vision for Change” recommends that a plan be drawn up for the closure of each of the remaining hospitals and this process should take place on a phased basis with wards closing sequentially. The Minister emphasised that “work on the closure of the remaining psychiatric hospitals is already underway and these can only close when the clinical needs of the remaining patients have been addressed in more appropriate settings. The capital programme of the HSE already includes a number of major mental health projects, and capital investment will accelerate when the closure plans for each hospital are completed”.

“In March 2006, I appointed an independent monitoring group to monitor and assess progress on the implementation of all the recommendations in “A Vision for Change”, the Minister said.

Concluding, the Minister O’Malley said “I welcome the indications that the Association will support the necessary reforms and organizational changes that will be needed to implement modern, world class mental health services”