HSE budget deficit knocks any hope for staff shortages in mental health

27 October 2023
  • Only 36% of the clinical roles in Dublin’s north inner city filled

Labour’s Senator Marie Sherlock said the €2.5bn funding shortfall for the HSE in 2024 means that we can have no confidence that very serious staffing shortfalls in mental health services on the northside of Dublin will be resolved any time soon.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The overall funding shortfall is desperately worrying. Mental health services in the north inner city are grossly under-resourced and we are very fearful there will be no major push to fix the high level vacancy into 2024”.

The Mental Health Commission’s report* into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) which showed in the Dublin North city and county (Area CHO9) that just 36% of the clinical roles in the north inner city were filled.

Instead of having 10.8 whole time equivalent clinical staff in CAMHS, it should have 30 staff to match the population in the area

No CAMHS intellectual disability team in Dublin North City and County.

“Special initiatives were needed to address this massive shortage of staff. Now with the big hole in the 2024 HSE budget means there is little hope of any special initiatives. We are seeing the practical implications of this deficit on the ground where parents are at their wits end.

“While the formal recruitment freeze is limited to certain grades such as administration roles, homecare assistants, homehelps and NCHDs, serious questions have to be asked about whether the HSE can actually fill the vacancies that have existed for a long period of time.

“As highlighted in their 2022 report for CHO9, many clinicians have to take on the work of administrators and team coordinators, limiting their clinical time with patients. This has a significant impact on services for patients.

“We know CAMHS is not the only place where serious shortfalls in services exist and we also see serious gaps in primary care psychology and therapy services. From figures received by my Labour Dáil colleagues from the end of last year that there was a bleak situation where approximately 43% of under 18s on psychology waiting lists waited over 52 weeks for care. This is unacceptable.

“We are a growing nation, in a budget surplus. Fiscal responsibility is key to any economy, but not hiring staff to fill vital positions, expecting current staff to take on extra responsibilities, is only going to create an inefficient system, fuel the retention crisis and hurt patients.”

“The shortfall in health funding is a serious concern”.

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