Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (634)

Cian O'Callaghan


634. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Health if there will be a financial return for his Department from the transfer of the lands at the former Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, to the Land Development Agency; if funds from this transfer will be ring-fenced for investment in mental health services as envisioned under A Vision for Change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2775/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government's commitment to open the new HSE National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) facility at Portrane, to replace the Central Mental Hospital at Dundrum, is included in our Programme for Government.

Construction of the new facility, which is funded under the HSE Capital Programme, is nearly complete. The new service will come on-stream in 2021, following completion of the Equipping and Commissioning stages, and the transfer of the existing service at Dundrum.

Construction of the facility at Portrane is not dependent on the sale of the Dundrum site. This site is owned by the Commissioner for Public Works, rather than the HSE. A new Dundrum Central Development is to be located on the site of the existing Central Mental Hospital, following its relocation to Portrane. This will be progressed by the Land Development Agency, which co-ordinates land within State control for optimal uses, as appropriate, with a focus on providing housing. In this context, the Exchequer will benefit from the sale of the facility at Dundrum.

While A Vision for Change (AVFC), which was launched in 2006, reflected an aspiration to re-invest where possible in the mental health care programme from funding accrued from the sale of mental health lands, this was subsequently influenced by various factors. In May 2006, following publication of AVFC, there was a Government decision that proceeds from the sale of older mental health assets, such as the Dundrum site, will be reinvested in new developments within health. Funding for the new NFMHS capital project at Portrane was facilitated by the significant additional funding given to mental health over recent years.

Budget 2021 saw an additional €50 million allocated to Mental Health Services, bringing the total 2021 mental health budget to €1,076 billion, which is the biggest mental health budget on record. This represents an increase of over €365 million (51%) since 2012. The Government is committed to further development of all aspects of our mental health services, in line with our current policy Sharing the Vision - A Mental Health Policy for All.