Wednesday, 10 November 2021
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I thank the Senator for his positive approach. The Castlerea mental health hub represents a new approach to developing options in mental health services delivery, including the psychiatry of later life. It is my intention, and that of the HSE, that the Castlerea hub will help to inform this objective nationally. I will take up the Senator's offer to visit his county to see the centre. As I said, this is a new approach to developing options in mental health services and it is so important. One of the things I was most pleased to secure funding for in the budget for next year is in the context of the integrated care programme for older persons. Everyone will be aware of what the programme does, but it does not deal with the psychiatry of later life. I secured funding for three pilot teams so that we will not be duplicating services in this area. If an older person presents with frailty, a broken hip or related issues, any issues concerning the psychiatry of later life can be addressed then as well. I am pleased about that.
Mention was made of the €18 million. When I came into my post last year, there was a deficit of €53 million in the area of mental health services in the Department of Health. I have managed to clear that and we are going into next year with no deficit. Working with the Department and the HSE, we went back as far as 2012 and we were able to see where some savings were made. One relevant aspect from my previous life is that I was good at figures. What we have been able to do is to secure the budget for the future. None of the €1.149 billion funding allocation for mental health services is owed or will have to be spent on something that happened previously. I am very pleased about that aspect because it is so important in light of Covid-19 and all the other challenges that people face that we have a good and robust mental health system. I look forward to visiting Roscommon and my office will talk to the Senator about it.