Friday 14 December 2018

HSE spends 40 times more on medication than counselling services to treat mental health illnesses

Stock image
Stock image
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

People battling mental illness need more access to counselling and talk therapies with less reliance on medication, a new report has warned.

The health service currently spends around €400m a year on medications to treat mental illness - but just €10m on psychological and counselling care in the community.

The call is made in the second interim report = of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Healthcare.

There is also a need to invest more of health spending on mental health services.

It is getting €917m, or 6.3pc of the overall budget this year but this needs to be increased to at least 10pc,

Referring to the recruitment crisis in certain areas of mental health services it said a newly qualified psychiatrist is paid 48 pc less than a colleague who qualified years earlier.

The pay of a newly-qualified psychiatric nurse is 30pc less than a colleague hired pre-recession.

Committee Chairperson, Joan Freeman, said:”The Committee has realised in the course of its deliberations that primary care, which is vital to the efficient delivery of services, is hampered by problems with recruitment, which is in turn affected by funding problems.

“While we welcome the fact that the HSE came before the committee on numerous occasions to answer our questions and provided us with high level information on funding, we remain dissatisfied with the level of specifics we received from them on the subject.

“The committee felt that the HSE did not drill down enough into the spending figures to show us exactly where money is being spent on the front line and this frustrated Committee Members.”

Smoke screens and vagueness are used by the HSE in order to make it more difficult to identify where funding is being spent.

“Throughout our deliberations, we heard time and time again that recruitment and retention of staff are huge issues in the Irish health service, because the HSE use the excuse that there are better working conditions available for health professionals abroad.

“However, further investigation revealed a poor process of recruitment that would impede recruiting professionals because of the ineffectiveness and inefficacy of the recruitment procedure.

“If we are to retain the staff that are so desperately needed in the mental health service, the HSE need to listen to the advice of experts including Staff that work at the front line as to how to recruit at local level and how to improve working conditions that will encourage people to remain in their employment.”

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News