Tuesday, 2 October 2007
Dáil Eireann Debate
249. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether €25 million per annum is the maximum resources that the system could absorb; and if so if this is the maximum revenue available with due recognition to the long term economic and social benefit of improved population mental health. [21857/07]
262. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if the €25 million in 2006 and 2007 have been targeted mainly at catchment and the low average funding areas that exhibit social and economic disadvantage as recommended in A Vision for Change. [21871/07]
266. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if funds to mental health services have been diverted to other services areas; and if so, the measures that should be introduced to protect mental health budgets at central and regional levels. [21875/07]
Since 1997, significant additional revenue funding has been invested in mental health services. Approximately €1 billion will be spent on mental health services in 2007 which includes an additional €51 million which was allocated in 2006 and 2007 for the development of mental health services in line with “A Vision for Change”. This is one third of the total cost of €150 million estimated by the Expert Group to fully implement the mental health strategy over 7 years. Future funding will be considered in the context of the estimates process for 2008 and subsequent year.
The proportion of overall health spending on mental health is frequently used to make a point on the adequacy of funding. However, it is not entirely valid to make this comparison, as the nature and scope of health services change, funding ratios automatically change.
“A Vision for Change” recommended there should be flexibility regarding catchment area size and composition, taking inter alia deprivation into account in catchment areas for populations of between 250,000 and 400,000. Organisation and management of services within each catchment should be coordinated locally by Mental Health Catchment Area Management Teams and managed nationally by the HSE.
Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive (HSE) under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. The Executive, therefore, is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.
250. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if in relation to budgeting as a tool for promoting effectiveness and efficiency through accountability, the Controller and Auditor General should conduct a follow up special report into the mental health system. [21858/07]
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Deputy Jimmy Devins): The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) is an independent body appointed under Section 33 of the Constitution. The C&AG works independently of Government Departments and it is, therefore, a matter for the C&AG to decide on his work programme.
251. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress in the implementation of the management and organisational changes recommended in chapter 16 of A Vision for Change. [21859/07]
265. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the management and organisational changes recommended in chapter 16 of A Vision for Change that fit with the Government’s transformation plan. [21874/07]
The Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, “A Vision for Change”, which was launched in January 2006, provides a framework for action to develop a modern, high quality mental health services for a seven to ten year period. The Government has accepted the Report as the basis for the future development of our mental health services.
The HSE deliver mental services at local level through 32 local HSE offices, each with a Local Health Manager. This structure is to ensure an integrated approach to the management of Primary, Community and Continuing Care Services. The Mental Health Executive which comprises the Clinical Director, Director of Nursing and Area Mental Health Manager assume the role of the Mental Health Management Team for their respective Local Health Office area. An Assistant National Director has a lead national role for mental health and is responsible through the National Director for ensuring that “A Vision for Change” is fully implemented.
The HSE is appointing a full time Project Manager to develop an implementation plan for “A Vision for Change”. This plan will be available in the Autumn and will include a timed and prioritised set of short, medium and longer term goals designed to implement key recommendations. The Project Manager will work with each area and the Local Health Office Management structures.
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