Lynch reiterates commitment to mental health services

Minister of State says €15 million dropped from mental health budget will be available in 2015


Minister of State with responsibility for mental health Kathleen Lynch has said she has a guarantee that the additional €15 million dropped from investment in mental health services in 2014 will be available the following year.

The Coalition had promised in its Programme for Government pledge to ringfence €35 million annually to modernise mental health services.

Ms Lynch confirmed earlier this week that a lower figure of €20 million will be allocated for investment in mental health services in 2014.

However speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme this afternoon, Ms Lynch said the additional €15 million would be available in 2015.

“We are getting €20 million this year and I have had a guarantee that the additional €15 million will be available next year and I will be holding people to that commitment.”

“ It is the expectation of this Government and I am determined that whether you’re in Donegal or Dingle that you will have the [mental health] service that you are entitled to,” she said.

Mental Health Reform, a coalition of campaign groups, welcomed the investment of €20 million earlier this week but expressed concern that lower than anticipated funding would result in fewer staff on the ground.

“Mental health services are continuing to lose staff through retirements and other departures, and services continue to be under pressure,” Dr Shari McDaid, director of Mental Health Reform said.

On the subject of medical cards, Ms Lynch said today she was pleased the Minister for Health had asked for a report on every single discretionary medical card that was taken out of the system and why it had happened.

“ I would like to reassure people out there that when it comes to someone who qualifies for and is in need of a medical card they will get it.”

Asked whether the fact that the overall HSE budget would be overseen by officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and the Department of Taoiseach indicated a vote of no confidence in Dr James Reilly by the Government, Ms Lynch said she was “fascinated by the spin put on these things.”

“It was actually the Minister himself asked that the entire Cabinet would get involved. Health for every government and particularly for this government because of the circumstances we’ve had to pull this country out of, is a key issue. And it is important to every single member of Government who sit at the Cabinet. And if everyone can put their shoulder to the wheel and ensure that the service when people need it still stands up and is capable of delivering that’s a good thing,” she said.