No diversions - Protecting mental health funds

Health Minister Simon Harris is to be encouraged — and congratulated — for insisting that funds earmarked for mental health services not be syphoned off and used elsewhere. He pointed critically to the decision by the last administration to divert €12m of the already inadequate €35m allocated to mental health services. 

Not only that but the minister is in discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure about increased spending ceilings for his department and has sought more money for mental health services.

The difficulties faced by that branch of the health service were underlined yesterday when psychiatric nurses gave notice of plans for strike action within a fortnight in a dispute over recruitment, the retention of staff and resources allocated to the sector. There is no doubt but that our mental health services are not as they should be — a situation made inevitable by scarce resources and, according to the psychiatric nurses’ union, poor management at HSE level.

Mr Harris may fight for extra funds but as his predecessors discovered, there’s more to this than a need for extra funding.


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