Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Ceisteanna (177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183)

Dan Neville

Ceist:

216 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether due to the increase in death by suicide it is now necessary to increase financial support for all the mental health services as it is well documented that in times of financial crisis there is a massive burden on persons’ mental health due to financial stress, debt and unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40394/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

217 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the implementation of the 2006 policy A Vision for Change; her views on its effects in replacing institutionalisation with community based services to date; if she will acknowledge in the context of budget 2011 spending reductions that the mental health budget has been reduced by 9.2% since 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40453/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Dan Neville

Ceist:

218 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to the crisis in our mental health services and if she will ensure that there are no further cuts in the mental health services in the next budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40392/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

256 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39943/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

276 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will consider correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40225/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 216 to 218, inclusive, 256 and 276 together.

The Government will be considering the 2011 Estimates for the health service over the coming weeks in the context of its strategy for economic recovery and its target to reduce the general government deficit to 3% of GDP by 2014. Notwithstanding the difficult financial environment, the Government is determined to do everything possible to protect services, to respond to priority demographic and other needs and to support ongoing reform of the public health services within the resources available for health. To achieve this, staff at all levels will have to work together to deliver services in a more flexible way. It is essential that the impact on frontline services of any cuts is minimised while ensuring that the needs of service users remains the highest priority.

The HSE is working within limited financial resources. The appropriate management of the public finances means that the health sector, which represents over 27% of public expenditure, must operate within the approved budget set out at the start of the year. Under Section 31(1) of the Health Act, 2004, the HSE is required to prepare an annual National Service Plan. The Plan, which must indicate the type and volume of health and personal social services to be provided by the HSE, is submitted to the Minister for Health and Children for approval. The appropriate management of the health services also means that the mental health services must be funded in an equitable and sustainable manner.

The estimated cost of the implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’ is €150m over 7 — 10 years. Development funding totalling €54 million has been allocated to the HSE since the launch of the Report in 2006. In addition, almost €1 million was allocated this year under the Dormant Accounts Fund for a programme of suicide prevention measures to help communities to develop integrated local action plans for suicide prevention. To further the implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’, the 2010 Employment Control Framework for the health service provided an exemption from the moratorium on recruitment and allowed 100 psychiatric posts to be filled by nurses or therapists.

There are substantial resources already invested in mental health. The reconfiguring and remodelling of these resources will be the main focus for the immediate future. While implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’ has been somewhat slower than originally anticipated it is important to say that in many parts of the country, services are pressing ahead with the implementation of the policy. Significant progress has been achieved including: shorter episodes of inpatient care, improved child and adolescent mental health services, fewer involuntary admissions and the involvement of service users in all aspects of mental health policy, service planning and delivery. Acute admissions to St Brendan’s Hospital have ceased. Plans for the transfer of acute inpatient admissions from St Ita’s Hospital to a new purpose built unit on the Beaumont Hospital Campus are proceeding. New Community Nursing Units in Ballinasloe and Mullingar have been developed.

The number of child and adolescent inpatient beds will increase from 30 to 52 before the end of 2010. This together with the Mental Health Commission code of practice relating to the admission of children under the Mental Health Act 2001 will greatly reduce the need to admit children to adult units.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

219 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will deal with a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39650/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

257 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the outcome of a recent meeting (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39945/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

I propose to take Questions Nos. 219 and 257 together.

I met with the Jack and Jill Foundation on Tuesday 12th October last. The Health Service Executive was also represented at the meeting. We discussed a range of issues including additional State funding. I will continue to engage with the Jack and Jill Foundation. Both the Minister and I and the Health Service Executive recognise the valuable contribution that the many agencies and charities make in the provision of health and personal social services to people with a disability.

Reflecting the current economic situation the health sector must manage service levels within available resources. The HSE together with the ‘non-statutory organisations' who provide services on behalf of the HSE, will continue to review how these services are provided in order to protect the delivery of front line services as much as possible. In the current environment, this is a challenge for all, including the HSE and non statutory charity organisations. The HSE will continue to work closely with all agencies and bodies in the sector, including Jack and Jill, to provide whatever assistance it can from within its resources, in the context of the annual Service Level Agreement arrangements.

The very difficult financial position facing the country will obviously require very careful management across all areas of expenditure, including the disability sector. Notwithstanding this difficult financial environment, the Government is determined to do everything possible to protect patient services, to respond to priority demographic and other needs, and to support ongoing reform of the public heath services within the resources available for health.