Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Health): Statements
Mark Ward (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
Last week the Minister stated there was additional funding of more than €343,000 to provide 300 hours of therapy per quarter for high-risk clients. I also have a written response from the Minister that reiterates that. This works out at €1,146 per hour for therapy sessions. The average cost of a psychotherapy session is in the region of €70 to €120 per hour. If, for example, 300 sessions were charged at the higher end of the average - €120 per hour - that would cost the State €36,000. The State is paying Pieta House more than €343,000 to provide the same service. That is a difference of €307,000 per quarter.
I have also received information from some self-employed therapists who have contacted me and other members of my party and who counsel clients for Pieta House. They charge them only €24 per hour, yet the State is funding Pieta House to the tune of €1,146 per hour. The Government, as the Minister said, has already invested heavily in Pieta House, to the tune of €2.03 million per year, and Pieta House has also availed of the wage subsidy scheme. Despite this, several staff were let go and others have been offered redundancy.
Will the Minister inform the House exactly where this funding is being directed? Is any of the additional funding being used to pay for the redundancies? Does the Minister think we are getting value for money at €1,146 per therapy session when it would cost the State €120 per hour, or €24 per hour if a self-employed therapist at Pieta House was hired? The State should provide such services and not rely on a charity to do so. Pieta House provides an essential service but it is essential only due to the lack of investment in mental health by this and previous Governments.