Moratorium must not be a blunt tool for cost cutting

Welcoming the launch of the Mental Health Commission’s Annual Report 2010, Mental Health Reform cautions the HSE against using the recruitment moratorium as a blunt tool.
Mental health services have experienced a disproportionate loss of staff as a result of the public sector staff moratorium. 20% of posts lost in the HSE in 2010 were from mental health services even though the care group represents just 9% of the workforce.
This loss in staff is having a detrimental effect on the implementation of Ireland’s mental health policy A Vision for Change, which aims towards a recovery-directed, community model of mental health care.
Welcoming the annual report, Director Orla Barry said: “While the economic realities of this country are clear, the Government and the HSE must ensure that the moratorium on recruitment is not detrimental to the implementation of A Vision for Change. The moratorium should not be used as merely a blunt tool for cost cutting. Effects of staff cuts must be analysed.”
“Mental Health Reform has called on the Government to ensure that the funding for any mental health post lost in 2011, should be preserved and used to enable recruitment of multi-disciplinary staffing to develop community based mental health services”, Ms Barry asserted.
In these economically strained times, it is vital that people have easy access to community mental health services. It is estimated that one in four people experience a mental health difficulty during their lives and that the cost of poor mental health to the Irish economy was €3bn, or 2% of GNP, in 2006.
At the same time, the proportion of health budget spending on mental health is currently at an all-time low of approximately 5% and this should be targeted to reach 8% by 2016. Mental health funding should also be transparently ring-fenced and reported as a specific budget line within the health budget.
“Mental Health Reform acknowledges and welcomes the Government’s commitment to implementing A Vision for Change. It is crucial that accountable structures are now put in place to follow through on this promise. The HSE must appoint a Director for Mental Health Services to ensure implementation”, Ms Barry concluded

Further Information
Natalie Buhl, Mental Health Reform: 085 744 66 96.


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