‘Worldwide shortage of psychiatrists’ delaying service delivery

Mattie McGrath claims €10m spent on psychological services but €400m on medication

 Fine Gael TD  Jim Daly said “2,000 positions have been approved and funded but the people with the necessary skillset are not out there”. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Fine Gael TD Jim Daly said “2,000 positions have been approved and funded but the people with the necessary skillset are not out there”. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A worldwide shortage of consultant psychiatrists is delaying the delivery of mental health services, Minister of State for Mental Health Jim Daly has said.

Recruitment not funding is the issue in the delays he told Independent TD Mattie McGrath.

Mr McGrath had pointed to reports that the HSE spends about €400 million every year on medication for the treatment of mental health.

But he said “a mere €10 million a year is spent on psychological and counselling care services”.

The Tipperary TD said the Oireachtas report on the Future of Mental Health Care showed annual spending of €917 million on mental health, which was just 6.3 per cent of the overall health budget.

He said it was a “desperate imbalance given all the problems being raised by all of us and being experienced throughout the country”.

Mr Daly, who has special responsibility for mental health said medication was a clinical issue and the Minister had no say on that whatsoever.

He said the €917 million health budget was an increase of €200 million since 2012.

“It is not the need for resources or for financial support from the Government that is holding back the delivery of services,” he said.

The issue is recruitment, he said, adding that “2,000 positions have been approved and funded but the people with the necessary skillset are not out there”.

He said “there is a worldwide shortage of consultant psychiatrists, which is delaying the delivery of these services. We need to look more at earlier interventions. We need to look to schools.”

Mr Daly said that he and Minister for Education Richard Bruton were working “to build services in schools and build more proactive services at primary care level and not at the acute level”.

Later, Minister of State at the Department of Health Catherine Byrne rejected a claim by Mr McGrath that the Government did not take mental health services seriously.

Mr McGrath highlighted the closure of psychiatric unit St Michael’s in 2012 in Tipperary and said “we don’t have a single bed in Tipperary for mental health services”.

Ms Byrne said there were a range of mental health services in Co Tipperary and the Minister would closely monitor development of mental health services particularly in developing new services and through additional investment.