Lynch admits to job 'tensions'

Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 01:00

Minister of State for Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch admitted today that there had been “a lot of tension” in her role recently.

Ms Lynch was speaking at a HSE event in Ballyfermot to launch a document on the integration of primary care and specialist mental health services in the community.

Complimenting the work of the Ballyfermot and Palmerstown primary care and mental health centre where the provision of primary care and mental health services is co-located, Ms Lynch said, “If a team works well, it's only because there are people in that team who are prepared to work on relationships”.

"We've all been in situations where we walked into a room and there was tension. Recently there has been a lot of tension," the Minister said. “We've all been in that position and you feel it. You instantly feel that there is a tension, so the team working together well is vitally important for the service user.”

Ms Lynch went on to say that it was “vitally important that mental health is seen in the mainstream”.

Speaking about the Ballyfermot centre, she said: “If you come to the desk here, you could be here for anything. It's not segregated.”

The event was also the first public engagement of newly appointed Minister of State for Health Alex White.

Mr White declined to comment on the criteria used by Minister for Health James Reilly on the location of primary care centres.

"I'm just a week in the job…I don't have anything to say about those issues yet," he said.

Mr White said that primary care centres where the public could have direct access to “integrated, multi-disciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others”, were critical to health reform and to the Government's commitment to universal primary care.

“The HSE is committed to having 485 operational teams in place by the end of this year - 412 teams are now in operation across the country and over 1,600 GPs are participating in these teams, providing services for over 3.8 million people,” he said.

He said there were already 36 primary care centres in operation, with a further 20 to be commissioned through public private partnership.

The Minister said the new contract with GPs would focus on disease prevention and include “a requirement for GPs to provide care as part of integrated multi-disciplinary primary care teams”. He said that the promised system of electronic patient tracking was also in train.

There was a heavy garda presence at the event after protesters had last week surrounded the car of Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald at an event in Ballyfermot. Some protesters had kicked the Ministers' car and an egg was thrown at the windscreen.