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Why does Minister of State O’Malley not act on his belief? – Ó Caoláin

5 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has challenged Minister of State for Health and Children Tim O'Malley to act on his belief that psychiatrists responsible for assessments of young people 'like' having long waiting lists.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "The Prime Time programme highlighted yet again the shameful inadequacy of mental health services in this State, including waiting lists of up to four years for children awaiting psychiatric assessment. These facts have been repeatedly stressed in the Dáil, yet over the past nine years the Fianna Fáil/PD Government has failed to provide the comprehensive mental health services that are so badly needed.

"If Minister of State Tim O'Malley really believes that psychiatrists are the problem because they like having long waiting lists then he should act on his belief.

"This Government has failed to stand up to that section of consultants within the health services who are determined to continue to profit from both the private and public systems, to the detriment of their public hospital work. It took five years for talks to begin on a new contract for consultants to ensure greater equity for public patients. Those talks are now stalled because consultants want to retain contracts that allow public-private double-jobbing.

"If, as Minister of State O'Malley claims, the problem in mental health services is the attitude of consultants then this Government bears much responsibility for that. The reality is that it is the Government which has failed to put in place the services that are needed, including adequate numbers of health professionals who are accessible to vulnerable children.

"Little has changed since the Mental Health Commission Annual Report for 2004 showed that the Irish Government was falling far short of its international obligations and was not meeting the needs of the mentally ill. The report highlighted lack of services, under-resourcing of existing services, poor management, wide variation in clinical practice across the State and inconsistency in service availability between regions. It is a system in need of fundamental change." ENDS

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