Speeches

Speaking Notes for Minister Moloney at a press briefing on achievements to date in the Mental Health Services

Welcome and thank you for coming.

The purpose of inviting you here today is to update you on the achievements to date in the mental health services.

Yes, ‘A Vision for Change’ is four years old, progress has been slower than anticipated, but there have been many significant developments and it is timely to acknowledge what has been achieved, and be clear where we are going.

Developments to date include:

  • 55 Child and Adolescent Teams in place with a further 8 teams being developed.
  • The number of in-patient beds for children and young people has more than doubled since 2007, increasing to 30. A further two 20 bed units are under construction in Cork and Galway.
  • The Mental Health Commission’s Code of Practice relating to the admission of children under the Mental Health Act 2001 requires by 1st December 2011, that no child under 18 years be admitted to an adult psychiatric unit.
  • 19 additional beds in the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) and a 6 place step-down residence in West Dublin have been developed.
  • An in-reach service to prisons including clinics in Cloverhill, Mountjoy, Wheatfield, Arbourhill, the Dochas Centre and the Midlands Prison has been developed. Some 100 prisoners are now being diverted annually from prisons to more appropriate settings.
  • Shorter episodes of inpatient care have been achieved and 50% of discharges occur within 2 weeks of admission.
  • There are fewer involuntary admissions.
  • Executive Clinical Directors have been appointed.
  • A National Lead for Mental Health has been appointed within the HSE.
  • The role of service users in informing and influencing policy makers, service providers, statutory agencies etc has been formalised with the establishment of the National Service Users Executive.
  • The Office for Disability engages extensively in cross-departmental working across various Government Departments including Health, Justice, Enterprise Trade and Employment, Environment and Local Government to further those recommendations that relate to the non-health sector.

Challenges Ahead

  • The challenges ahead include the closure of the 15 Victorian and older asylums still in use. If we are to realise a person-centred mental health service, the old psychiatric hospitals must close at the earliest possible opportunity and patients moved to more appropriate accommodation.
  • Government has approved the ringfencing of the proceeds of sales of psychiatric hospital assets. In relation to properties disposed of prior to 2009, €25m was provided to the HSE to fund mental health capital developments in 2009. Projects funded included a day centre in Clonmel, and two x twenty-bed child and adolescent in-patient units in Cork and Galway, which are currently under construction.
  • In 2010 the HSE will dispose of surplus assets and reinvest an initial sum of €50m in developing the new mental health infrastructure. Martin Rogan and Brian Gilroy will outline the HSE’s plans and timeframes for the provision of new facilities and the closure of the remaining old psychiatric hospitals.
  • The mental health capital programme will provide a range of facilities. Some of my priorities for 2010 include:
    • Transferring acute admissions from St Brendan’s Hospital to Connolly Memorial Hospital, Blanchardstown;
    • A new acute unit at Beaumont Hospital which will remove all acute admissions from St Ita’s Hospital, Portrane;
    • A new acute unit in Letterkenny;
    • A Community Nursing Unit in Clonmel to enable St Lukes’s Hospital to close this year.
    • Providing community mental health facilities in some 30 Primary Care Centres.
  • My objective is to improve the lives of people with mental illness and particularly those people currently in our old psychiatric hospitals they deserve nothing less.
  • Stigma. Sometimes it is difficult for people experiencing mental health problems to participate as full members of Irish society. This is not necessarily due to discrimination but to fear, misunderstanding, prejudice and stigma in relation to mental illness. I recently asked the Shine organisation to project manage a campaign to address this issue. The objective of the campaign will be to eliminate social exclusion and ensure that the mainstreaming agenda delivers for every person with experience of mental ill health. I will be launching this stigma reduction initiative in the next few weeks but meanwhile John Saunders of Shine will give you a general outline of the initiative.

Conclusion

The implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’ is a work in progress. Much has happened and much has changed economically since the report was launched. However, I would like to take the opportunity to stress that ‘A Vision for Change’ remains a progressive document and it continues to be our roadmap, charting the way forward.