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24 hour mental health crisis support cannot wait – Ellis

31 May, 2016 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis has condemned the failure to deliver many of the recommendations from the ‘A Vision for Change’ document and called for immediate action to provide 24 hour crisis support for people with mental health problems. Deputy Ellis made his comments as part of a debate on mental health in the Dáil today.

The Dublin North West TD said:

“Money is not a silver bullet which will solve all problems, but it is quite clear that our mental health services and our mental healthcare professionals have been chronically underfunded for decades. 

“The clearest evidence of this is that ten years on from the publication of ‘A Vision for Change’, many of the recommendations are either completely unfulfilled or partially complete. 

“There is still no 24 hour crisis support service, leaving people in serious distress outside office hours with little access to care. In some cases, people in crisis may have to make hundreds of kilometres back and forth to different services in order to potentially get a bed in an acute unit. This is what this government require of somebody who is already incredibly vulnerable and hopeless.

“A&E which are already packed to capacity with general medical emergencies are having to deal with people in mental health crisis who have nowhere else to go. Many of these after waiting for an extended period of time and having been told there is no place for them leave the A&E. Recently, we have seen a spate of tragedies where people who left A&E in crisis subsequently took their lives. 

“The Minister has said that those who leave A&E due to waiting times are gambling with their health, but it is the state that who are gambling with the lives of people who may be suicidal and are being forced to wait in this manner in crowded, noisy, chaotic waiting rooms.

“The full roll out of Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses would cost less than €400,000 but it has yet to be completed. These nurses need to be on hand so no person in crisis leaves hospital without assessment and the appropriate care.

“It is a political choice; past governments choose to ignore the issue. This cannot be allowed to happen again.” 

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