Pitiful budget increase will not deliver needed mental health reform – Buckley
Sinn Féin deputy spokesperson on Mental Health Pat Buckley TD has slammed the news that the government will only increase the mental health budget by a meagre €15 million for 2017 despite claims of more than double that on budget day. He made his comments in light of further confirmation by the government that of the €35 million promised on budget day less than half would actually be allocated in 2017. He joined Mental Health Reform and the Union of Students in Ireland in calling on the government to review this plan.
Deputy Buckley said;
“This government promised mental health reform would be a priority, it promised in its programme for government with Fianna Fáil that funding would be increased annually. While €15 million does represent a small increase of 1.8%, it is a slap in the face to those who depend on the services, their families and campaigners. It is utterly disingenuous to promise to deliver and then only provide crumbs off the table when the budget rolls around.
“Mental health funding has been historically low and there are a 1000 less full time positions in the service than there were in 2008. Institutions have closed and not been replaced by the needed 24/7 community model in most cases, with Community Mental Health teams understaffed and only operating 5 days a week. Nurses and other professional are leaving Ireland due to issues with pay and conditions. The mental health strategy a Vision for Change is 10 years old and remains largely unimplemented due to a lack of funding.
“The government promised that they would tackle these problems and 1.8% in additional funding simply will not do this. It will barely keep services standing still with increasing demand.
“I have requested a debate with the Minister today to discuss this issue and will continue to press for better funding and the full implementation of A Vision for Change.”