THE Health Service Executive has been severely rebuked by Amnesty International Ireland for failing to keep track on spending in mental health.
The human rights organisation found the health authority was unable to account for spending on mental health because of major gaps in its financial processes.
Amnesty International Ireland’s research and legal manager, Fiona Crowley, described the situation as alarming. “And even where the cash is accounted for, there are no mechanisms in place to measure how effectively it is being spent.
“We simply do not know enough about where our money is going or what it is being used for. This would be a serious concern at any time, but, in the light of the current economic situation, it is astounding.”
Ms Crowley said that the situation made it impossible for anyone to hold the HSE to account in relation to its mental health funding.
Amnesty International Ireland commissioned Indecon International Consultants to conduct an audit and review of Government expenditure on mental health services in Ireland since 2006.
The consultants also assessed progress on the implementation of Vision for Change, the Government’s 10-year blueprint to modernise mental health services. The report found that, at the current rate of progress, it could take up to ten years to achieve the staffing targets recommended in Vision for Change.
In addition to accounting gaps, the report also found the that health authority continues to invest heavily in in-patient treatment, with less than 20% of all staff in the mental health services in place in community mental health teams at the end of last year.
“Despite the promise of a shift in culture, the HSE continues to heavily invest in institutional care over properly organised community care,” said Ms Crowley.
“Even the community teams that have been established fall far short of their recommended staffing levels, which means people are still not getting a proper choice in treatment,” she said.
Last week, Minister of State for Mental Health and Disability John Moloney said he was committed to ensuring that resources released by the closure of psychiatric hospitals would go directly to the development of mental health facilities.
“And I am pleased to say I have the support of the Government and the Taoiseach in that context,” he said.
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