Thursday, 3 June 2021
Mental Health During and Post Covid-19: Statements
Catherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
I did not mean to; I only wanted a minute. I thank Deputy Pringle.
I am only raising one specific issue and it is to do with psychologists and a new panel. It has arisen because of the changes in the panel system and because of the cyberattack. We have no other way of raising this. We have tried bringing it to the Minister's attention but the emails are being rejected. That is the reason I am using this time but it is directly related to mental health.
According to the Health Service Executive website, all existing panels for psychologist staff will expire on the go-live date of the panel created on foot of the new recruitment campaign. This is a considerable change to the panel system that was there. Panels existed in theory for a year but often they were extended for three years.
The issue is that the people on the existing panel have not been notified of this change. Of course, the HSE is saying that the cyberattack is the reason for not notifying people. As a result, many psychologists on existing panels do not know that they need to apply for the new panel. This is the point. It is time sensitive, as the deadline for applications for the new panel is Tuesday next, 8 June.
Furthermore, due to the cyberattack, only hard copies of applications will be accepted. People are doubly disadvantaged in that they need to get a hard copy application into the post. It is extremely challenging.
It has been an extremely challenging year for all healthcare workers. Of course, we need more psychologists. I need not tell the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, that we need to be supporting them rather than causing extra difficulty. I am asking the Minister of State to ensure the psychologists on that panel are aware of what is happening and that they need to reply, and-or consider delaying the deadline to allow them sufficient time to make application, and, of course, at some stage to clarify why the panel system changed.