Press Release

Tánaiste says no grounds for Consultant Psychiatrists withholding Co-operation from Mental Health Tribunals

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D. today (Thursday, 22nd December ’05) rejected comments attributed to the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) that the resources were not being put in place to support the operation of the new mental health tribunals. “I have secured an additional €25m for the enhancement of mental health services in 2006, including the establishment of 18 new consultant psychiatrist led teams at a cost of some €15m”.

The scale of this investment will facilitate the formal establishment of the mental health tribunals during next year, by way of a commencement order under the Mental Health Act 2001 bringing Part 2 of the Act into operation.

The Tánaiste also confirmed that if both the IHCA and the IMO (Irish Medical Organisation) withdrew the instruction to their consultant psychiatrist members not to apply for positions on the mental health tribunals, and gave a commitment that they would co-operate with the operation of the tribunals, then this would immediately clear the way for the payment of the 1.5% salary increase under Sustaining Progress.

“It is not enough for the IHCA to say that the row would “be largely over” if the pay increase is sanctioned. What is required is a clear and unequivocal commitment from both consultant bodies that their members will co-operate with the full implementation of the Mental Health Act 2001”.

The Tánaiste said that there was still time before Christmas for the IHCA and IMO to respond positively to the appeal she made on radio yesterday to co-operate with the mental health tribunals, in the interests of one of the most vulnerable groups of patients in our society. Such a response would be matched by the immediate issuing of sanction for the payment of the 1.5% pay increase with effect from the due date (1st December 2005).