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Ó Caoláin urges no reduction for mental healthcare in budget

15 November, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking on the Private Members motion on Mental Health, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said mental healthcare must not again become the ‘poor relation’ of the health services.

He said:

“Budget 2012 could be a Budget which will see mental health again relegated as the poor relation of the healthcare system. But there are alternatives, there is a better way. The motion sets out a programme for the government to follow on mental health and we strongly urge them to adopt the motion and the programme.

“On World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2011, the cross-party Oireachtas Group on Mental Health launched the first ever cross-party pre-Budget submission. With Deputies Maureen O’Sullivan, Dara Calleary and Simon Harris and Senator Susan O’Keeffe, I am a co-convenor of the Group. It is a very positive development that this Group was established in the 31st Dáil and that, so soon after its establishment, the Group has made a pre-Budget submission.

“I want to pay tribute to Mental Health Reform, the advocacy group which has encouraged and facilitated this initiative. The Cross-Party Oireachtas Group on Mental Health has made very clear that at its core it has the conviction that, now more than ever, in a time of recession, we need to prioritise mental health. In light of this, the Cross Party Group on Mental Health made the following budgetary recommendations:

1. In line with the Programme for Government, implementation of A Vision for Change must continue.

2. Funding for mental health must be held at the Budget 2011 level. The funding attached to any mental health posts lost in 2012 must be preserved and used for the recruitment of multi-disciplinary, community based mental health staff.

3. The ring-fencing of €35m annually from within the health budget to develop community mental health teams and services as outlined in A Vision for Change must occur in order to ensure early access to more appropriate services for adults and children and improved comprehensive community based mental health services that are linked to primary care.

“This Budget must at least maintain funding for mental health services. Anything less is totally unacceptable.” ENDS

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