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Government playing catch up to fully implement reform of Mental Health Act - Mark Ward TD

1 December, 2021 - by Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has said the Government are playing catch up in the provision of support staff to fully implement the reform of the Mental Health Act 2001.

The number of Authorised Officers in the state has decreased by 20% in the last two years, with some CHO areas seeing a 56% drop in Authorised Officers.

Teachta Ward said:

“Authorised Officers are key to the full implementation of the reform of the Mental Health Act.

“An Authorised Officer is a staff member of the mental health services authorised to make an application to a registered medical practitioner for the involuntary admission of an adult to hospital.

“The reform of the Mental Health Act 2001 is a key step in the transition towards person centred, recovery-focused services, and provides an opportunity for Ireland to be world leaders in the delivery of mental health legislation that adequately protects people’s human rights.

“The General Scheme proposes to restrict the making of an application for involuntary detention to just Authorised Officers, which is a prescribed grade in the HSE.

“The Government needs to plan for this now. A response I got from a Parliamentary Question stated that the number of Authorised Officers available to the state has fallen from 159 to just 126.

“In CHO 7, which services my own area, the number of authorised officers fell from 25 to 11, which is an alarming 56% decrease.

“The HSE has estimated that expanding the Authorised Officer system to provide a nationwide 24/7 service may cost in the region of €3,000,000 per year.

“In 2020, there were 1,919 admission orders for involuntary detention. 32% of which were by Gardaí, the largest yet.

“Reform of the Mental Health Act is set to be more person-centred and if the Government is serious about this, they need to put the foundations in now."

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