Psychiatric association queries funding

THE Irish Psychiatric Association (IPA) has called on the Government to clarify whether the €43 million announced in yesterday’s budget for investment in mental health projects includes money already raised through the sale of psychiatric institutions.

Last night IPA spokesperson Dr Siobhan Barry said it was not clear if the figure included €27m realised from the sale a number of years ago of St Loman’s Hospital in Dublin.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan announced the €43m as “additional” funding for a multi-annual investment programme in line with the strategy set out in A Vision for Change, the Government blueprint for the development of mental health services. A Vision for Change, published three years ago, called for any funds raised through the sale of former psychiatric hospitals to be ringfenced for reinvestment in mental health. Dr Barry said the commitment had been made before in the Dáil, but was not followed through.

“It means nothing when announced in the Dáil... The last time we sought clarity from the Comptroller and Auditor General, he said it was meaningless unless backed up by a statutory instrument. We’ve been this far before. We need a statutory instrument to support this.”

Mental Health Minister John Moloney last night failed to return calls seeking clarification in relation to the funding. In an earlier statement he announced a €3m Innovation Fund for disabilities and mental health and he welcomed the provision of funding to enable the statutory registration and inspection of residential services for children with disabilities to commence by the end of 2010. This commitment was made by the Government following the publication of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

Mr Moloney added that detailed proposals would be brought to Government early in the new year regarding the protection of vulnerable adults with disabilities who are in residential services provided by or on behalf of the state.


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