HSE criticised over mental health funds
A CROSS-party group of TDs and senators has criticised the HSE for not fully utilising the €35m in funds allocated to the country's mental health services in last year's Budget.
The Cross-Party Oireachtas Group on Mental Health said it was "not good enough" for the HSE to continue diverting funds from mental health services into other areas.
"When we pass a Budget we mean it, and the HSE should not try to make up its own policy," said Fianna Fail TD Simon Harris (pictured).
"If there is €35m ring-fenced for mental health services, it's not good enough for the HSE to do as it wishes with those funds."
The Government's policy on mental health recommended a move from hospital care to community-based care. It established community mental health teams of psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers who work alongside doctors to support people with mental health difficulties.
"Disappointing" delays in 2012 meant only 58 of the 414 staff promised to these teams were recruited and the group hopes such delays will not be repeated this year.
"They say they are going to spend the money, but we're asking them to spend it in the time frame allocated, as soon as it's allocated by the Oireachtas," said Deputy Harris.
A HSE spokesperson said: "Of 414 posts allocated in 2012, the recruitment process is complete for 376 posts as at August 26, 2013. There are a further 21 posts accepted with clearances being processed."