Acting Minister for Health must come before Dáil – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin T.D. has described as ‘deplorable’ the news that HSE officials have said that €12 million of the €35 million ring-fenced for mental health in the last budget was being diverted to other areas in health.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said;
“A number of weeks ago I recorded my concerns that, with over a quarter of the 2016 calendar year now past, the promised additional €35million to be spent on Mental Health had not yet been released. I also highlighted that, in the absence of the means to hold Minister Varadkar to account in the Dáil chamber, I was prevented from carrying out my electoral mandate as a representative of the people.
“It appears that the situation has gone from bad to worse with the threat of €12million being taken from the €35million which was ring-fenced for mental health. This is absolutely deplorable and is indicative of a Government that is out of touch with the realities faced by so many who suffer from mental health issues.
“Mental health is an area in which successive Governments have failed to provide an adequate level of service. This is despite the fact that 644,000 people, one in seven adults, have experienced a mental health difficulty in the past year.
“The overarching framework document for this sector, ‘A Vision for Change’, proposed a mental health funding target of 10% of the overall health budget. While there have been attempts made to reconfigure health spending in order to afford mental health greater priority, we continue to see funds earmarked for mental health diverted to other areas.
“Sinn Féin has a plan for mental healthcare. Among our proposals are a commitment to increase the mental health budget in year one by €35 million, to complete the rollout of Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses (SCAN), to reverse cuts to guidance counsellors in schools introduced by the Government in 2012, to increase the number of inpatient child and adolescent beds, to increase the number of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) teams, among many others.
“It is imperative that the acting Minister for Health comes before the Dáil at the earliest opportunity to address this issue. He must be held to account. I will endeavour to do what I can to ensure that the money allocated for mental health goes where it was intended”, concluded Deputy Ó Caolain.