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Fianna Fáil need to push government to reform mental health services - Pat Buckley TD

2 May, 2018 - by Pat Buckley TD

Sinn Féin Mental Health spokesperson Pat Buckley TD has called on Fianna Fáil to use its influence with the Fine Gael government to ensure that needed reforms are made to mental health services to ensure the recruitment and retention of much needed staff. 

Deputy Buckley made the comments during a debate on a Fianna Fáil Bill which he said would not change the government policy which was the real problem.

Teachta Buckley said;

"The problem is not one of law, though we support this Bill. It is one of policy and political will. Mental Health services are seen by the political class which has run this country for decades as an expensive and complicated burden, much like housing. That doesn’t change with a paragraph of standalone legislation.

"It changes with real policy and real political will to deliver world class public services as a function of a State which sees its role as one of caring and providing for its citizens.

"This would be a good point to remember I think, when Fianna Fáil discuss their relationship with Fine Gael as enabler to a government which has completely failed to address the myriad of problems in our mental health services which though complicated by their enduring presence are essentially the day to day tasks of running a service.

"Yes there are difficulties with recruitment, but they would be far less damaging to our service if they had not been allowed to deepen by heaping the brunt of austerity of people working in them over many years.

"Nurses in particular but all levels of the mental health service have had to work in chaotic, dysfunctional and sometimes dangerous conditions, over workers and too often under payed.

"That problem was allowed to develop without intervention for many years and now with services at breaking point and national scandals like the crisis in CAMHS we our offered recruitment issues a justification which we should just accept as an insurmountable problem.

"It is a government problem of its own making and it is not insurmountable. We cannot play the waiting game while lives are at stake hoping unrealistically that things will get better. No medical professional would ever advise a patient to ignore a problem and hope its goes away. Nor should any government.

"This bill does not provide a pathway to anything other than speaking time in the Dáil. There is a pathway for addressing the problems he correctly outlines in that quote as being seriously damaging to our services though. That pathway is the work of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Health and the recommendations of its Interim Report.

"What Fianna Fáil should be doing is using their position to hold this government to account on these issues and ensuring speedy implementation of this pathway. This Bill, however well-meaning will not do that."

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