Thursday 22 March 2018

'HSE recruitment crisis may be reason for Ireland's high teen suicide rate' - TD

Sinn Fein's Louise O’Reilly
Sinn Fein's Louise O’Reilly
Sinn Fein's Louise O’Reilly

Rebecca Lumley

Recruitment and retention issues in the HSE may be at the heart of "fairly shocking" new suicide figures, according to a TD.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Sinn Féin's Spokesperson for Health Louise O’Reilly said the HSE is suffering a "crisis in recruitment", which is leaving mental health services under-resourced and ineffective.

This comes after the release of Unicef’s latest report card, which revealed that Ireland has the fourth highest teen suicide rate of 37 wealthy countries surveyed. It was ranked as the third worst of EU countries surveyed. 

Ms O’Reilly blasted current Health Minister Simon Harris, saying he has "failed" to keep medical graduates in Ireland.

"Nothing has been done that has worked to date. I think the minister needs to look hard at the recruitment and retention issues in the HSE," she said.

"The heath service is not an attractive place to work, unfortunately. The healthcare graduates are showing us that with their feet, they’re leaving."

Ms O’Reilly said the report’s findings were "fairly shocking", but claimed that the HSE is currently "running on 53pc of what it should be."

She also claimed there was a shortfall of over 500 full time staff.

The Sinn Féin TD has previously stated a desire to work in the health department, saying the job of Health Minister is one she "would love."

According to the Unicef report, 10.3 adolescents died by suicide per 100,000 people in Ireland between 2012 and 2013. This was markedly higher than the UK, which reported just 3 suicides per 100,000.

Portugal had the lowest number (1.7), followed by Italy (1.9) and Spain (2). New Zealand reported the highest suicide rates, with 15.6 teen suicides per 100,000.

It was followed by Lithuania, Finland and Ireland.

The report, Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries, also examined Irish children's’ exposure to poverty.

It revealed that 18.3pc of Irish children live in "relative income poverty", while 23pc live in "multidimensional poverty."

It also showed that 17.9pc of children under 15 live with an adult who is "food insecure."

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