Hands off mental care - Funding the health service

OVER the years, a squadron of able and committed politicians fled the health ministry without being able to record substantive, game-changing success or reform.

Each beaten docket after the other seems to show the signs that suggest they might have been kidnapped by aliens and exposed to a terrible world they never imagined existed. One, Brian Cowen, infamously described the adventure as like being in “Angola because there were landmines everywhere”.

Yesterday’s suggestions that a third of the funds ring-fenced for mental care services might be pillaged to support other areas in our dysfunctional, mismanaged health service showcase a state of near anarchy. The Irish Examiner has reported that mental-health services closely avoided having no budget of any kind allocated in last December’s budget until the minister responsible — Kathleen Lynch — threatened to resign. It confirms that something like heartless anarchy prevails.

The College of Psychiatrists, and the Greens, yesterday expressed dismay that these already inadequate funds might be cut. The need for these funds is so obvious, so pressing, that it seems almost incredible that there should even be a debate around funding. There is, however, a debate about pay “restoration” across the public service and about ending the USC. The juxtaposition of these issues, and yesterday’s Hiqa report, show us in a pretty poor, selfish light.

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