Pat Buckley TD demands that government lives up to mental health funding promise
Sinn Féin Deputy Spokesperson on Mental Health has condemned the government’s plan to provide just 15 million euro additional funding for mental health services in 2017, branding it as “simply not good enough”. He made his comments as part of a debate on a motion requesting that the government review the plan.
Deputy Buckely said;
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil committed in their post election agreement to fully implement the ‘Vision for Change strategy.
"One crucial part of seeing Vision for Change implemented is the issue of funding. Our mental health services have long been under funded with its share of overall health budget shrinking again and again. Presently Mental Health funding makes up just 6.4% of the health budget. In 2017 it looks like that will be closer to 5.7%. In the UK and Canada it is 13%.
"This doesn’t sound like mental health is being prioritised, it sounds like more of the same. A lot of talk about mental health but very little substance.
"This year we were told that 35 million euro was being added to the mental health budget for 2017. No detail further than that was provided. The figure being just short of that called for by groups like Mental Health Reform and the Oireachtas Group on Mental Health was welcomed. I welcomed it myself while stating that more detail was needed.
"In the coming weeks it became apparent that one again the media, the public and the opposition had been misled and given incorrect information. As soon as budget fever died down, the truth was revealed quietly in response to the questioning of TD’s.
"Instead of 35 million euro, just 15 million euro would be added to the budget in 2017. A pathetic increase of just 1.8% which would barely allow the services to stand still in a time of increasing demand. The government knew that this was an unacceptable figure. They knew it was not good enough. That is clearly why they hid it as best they could.
"In the governments election manifesto they promised 175 million euro in additional mental health spending over 5 years.
"We cannot wait any longer for the political will and the funding needed to bring about the needed reforms underpinned in Vision for Change. The government can no longer talk out of both sides of their mouth on this issue.
"The Minister and the government must listen to the Dáil tonight, to the activists and to the people who depend on these services. It simply not good enough, they can and must do better. Tonight is an opportunity to do the right thing, which many of your party would like to see I’m sure also. Stand by your commitments to the people, the ones you made in the election and after.”