Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (650)

Dan Neville


766 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the percentage allocation to the mental health service of the total budget for the health services in 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2004. [2081/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

The percentage allocation to the mental health services of the total non-capital budget for the health services in 1990, 1995 and 2000 is as follows: 1990 — 10.7%; 1995 — 9.3%; and 2000 — 7.7%. When evaluating these figures, it must be borne in mind that in-patient care has always been the costliest element of the mental health service and, with the consistent reduction in psychiatric hospital bed numbers, and the ongoing transfer of intellectually disabled and elderly patients to other settings, it is to be expected that expenditure proportionate to medical and surgical services would fall.

In recent years, significant additional resources have been committed to developing a comprehensive, community based mental health service. This has resulted in a continuing decline in the number of in-patients, from 5,192 in 1997 to 3,966 in 2002, with a corresponding increase in the provision of a range of care facilities based in the community to complement in-patient services. There are now 411 community psychiatric residences providing 3,146 places, compared to 391 residences providing 2,878 places in 1997.

Since 1997, approximately €90 million additional revenue funding has been invested in the mental health services. In the main, this funding is being used to provide additional medical and health professional staff for expanding community mental health services, increase child and adolescent services, expand the old age psychiatry services, provide liaison psychiatry services in general hospitals and enhance the support provided to voluntary agencies.

Since 1997, five new acute psychiatric units have opened at the Mercy Hospital, Cork, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, Ennis General Hospital, Clare, St. Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny and Mayo General Hospital. There are now 21 acute psychiatric units attached to general hospitals and several further units are pending.

The Revised Estimates Volume for 2004, including the estimated health expenditure by programme, is being compiled and will be published shortly by my colleague, the Minister for Finance.