Dáil debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Ceisteanna - Questions

National Risk Assessment

4:30 pm

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance) | Oireachtas source

The pandemic has clarified some of the key risks facing this country, and in some cases has created risks, so it is important that we respond. The Taoiseach has spoken a lot about higher education, placements and people getting qualifications. I repeatedly put to him a number of examples of where we are not doing what he is saying we are going to do. One thing the pandemic has done is created something of a mental health crisis for particular cohorts in society, yet we are chronically under capacity in terms of the supply of psychologists. We have 400 fewer psychologists than were identified as being required under A Vision for Change. Interestingly, in Sharing the Vision, the reference to psychologists has disappeared altogether because we have not been able to build the capacity. I pointed out to the Taoiseach that the difficulties are immense, in particular for working class people or people on low incomes in getting doctorates in psychology. There is a chronic lack of places for all types of psychology doctorates. The level of fees for doctorates is €15,000 a year, and in the case of educational and counselling psychology no funding at all is available. People are expected to do 30 months over three years of work and get no funding. People are working unpaid on placement and paying perhaps €50,000 over three years in fees. They are in dire straits. How exactly is that helping remove obstacles to higher education in a key area like mental health when we have 10,000 children, adolescents and adults waiting for psychological services?

I could make the same point about doctors and the obstacles being put in the way of graduate entry courses for doctors in terms of fees and the cost of concluding their doctorates, or student nurses who still face significant fees, which they should not have to pay when we need more nurses and who are being made to work unpaid on placements throughout their nurse training.


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