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Government need to be honest about mental health underspend – Buckley

27 September, 2017 - by Pat Buckley TD

Sinn Féin junior Mental Health spokesperson Pat Buckley TD has called on the government to give honest answers on how much money has been returned to the exchequer from the budget for mental health following a damning report on Roscommon services by the HSE.

The report reveals that €16 million was returned to the exchequer from the local budget for mental health between 2012 and 2014 as well as highlighting a number of serious clinical concerns.

Deputy Buckley said:

“The big question here, apart from the need to specifically address the localised issues in this report, is to determine just how localised these problems are. 

“Is Roscommon an exception or the rule? This is especially crucial to determine when it comes to funding.

“We’ve heard a lot from the government about their strides in increasing mental health from the low base that it was at for many years but how much of that money is being spent on an annual basis and how much is being returned.

“€16 million euro for just one area is huge and particularly when that area is not providing quality care according to the report or at the least is failing in a number of regards. Recently, the HSE told me in a PQ that all money for 2017 was allocated and would be used. Can we be sure of that until next year, given the findings here?

“Are other CHO’s returning monies on this level on a regular basis? Is the government aware of the problem and, if so, what has been done or are they benefiting from announcing spending figures which don’t materialise and recycling that money.

“Last year, the government announced a miserly €15 million increase in mental health funding, was this figure decided on the basis that underspend from 2016 would be providing for it? How can we trust any figure from the upcoming 2018 budget, knowing what we know from this report.” 

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