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Mental Health Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 28 June 2011

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Questions (461)

Frank Feighan


487 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health if the moratorium on recruitment in mental health services in County Roscommon will be lifted to avoid a crisis; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that approximately 40% of staff employed in mental health services in County Roscommon have retired; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that extra staff could be employed for the cost of paying regular overtime to the skeleton staff employed in the services; when will a national recruitment scheme be advertised for psychiatric nurses; and if a suicide prevention nurse will be appointed in Roscommon County Hospital to deal with the suicide issue. [17101/11]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health)

The Employment Control Framework 2011-2014 for the health sector gives effect to Government priorities on employment policy in the public sector and provides that there will be a net reduction in employment to 2014. The Framework is designed to maintain tight control on the cost of providing public services while protecting front-line services as far as possible. It is necessary to ensure that there is sustainability in the cost of providing public services relative to the Government's revenue.

The Framework allows for the targeted growth of certain grades which are exempt from the moratorium on recruitment (including Medical Consultants, Physiotherapists and Social Workers) in order to deliver on key priority services. It also provides for the filling of non-exempted posts on exceptional grounds in order to maintain essential services and to meet priority service change/reorganisation requirements.

In recognition of the significant number of psychiatric nurses who have retired in recent times, the 2010 Employment Control Framework for the health service provided an exemption from the moratorium and allowed the filling of 100 psychiatric nursing posts. The more recent 2011 Framework again provides an exemption from the moratorium in respect of 100 psychiatric nursing posts where they are required to support the implementation of A Vision for Change. The 2011 exemption allows these posts to be filled by nurses and/or other disciplines in community mental health teams. The allocation of these posts to particular service locations / geographical areas is being identified by the HSE National Care Group Lead for Mental Health in consultation with my Department.

It is not necessary to advertise a recruitment scheme for psychiatric nurses at this time as the HSE has advised that it already has panels of appropriately qualified nurses in place.

The issue of the appointment of a suicide prevention nurse in Roscommon County Hospital is an operational matter for the HSE in respect of which I have asked them to reply to you directly.