Dublin: True Extent Of Staffing Crisis In Mental Health Services EXPOSED

6 Aug

THE true extent of the staffing crisis in community mental health services has been revealed as figures show just 21 of 124 adult community mental health teams (CMHTs) and one of 53 child and adolescent teams are fully staffed.

Under the Government’s reform policy, it is envisaged that mental health services will mainly be community-based, but a lack of community-based staff is seriously impinging on delivery of the plan, A Vision for Change (AVFC).

Internal HSE briefing documents show the extent of the problem, stating that fewer than half of adult teams have a clinical psychologist appointed, while just 26% of child and adolescent teams have childcare workers.

Multi-disciplinary teams are made up of a psychiatrist, nurses, a psychologist, a social worker, an occupational therapist, a speech and language therapist and a childcare worker.

But while the document says €35m is to be invested to ensure every team has this full complement of staff, it has emerged that the recruitment of up to 1,400 posts — including frontline positions exempt from the recruitment moratorium — may be put on hold due to limited resources.

The paper, dated June 2011, also officially concedes that in “light of current economic realities” it will not be possible to fulfil all aspects of AVFC, published in 2006. It bullet-points what the priorities will be for the coming years. They are:

– To stabilise mental health resources and the rapid loss of staff through retirement;

– To reduce dependency on in-patient services by reducing beds and redirecting inpatient services to community mental health teams;

– To improve services for young people;

– To replace the Central Mental Hospital and develop forensic community teams.

After this, the document states, the “next focus” should be on specialist areas, such as providing old age psychiatry services, intellectual disability teams and rehabilitation and recovery teams in all areas.

Meanwhile, experts have warned that a recovery model of treatment must be applied urgently to the mental health services.

AVFC stated that people must be rehabilitated in recovery-oriented programmes and recommended that 39 community rehabilitation and recovery teams should be established nationally.

What is needed, according to the Mental Health Commission, the sector watchdog, is a philosophical change within the services as there has been an “inadequate” grasp and commitment to the principles underlying AVFC.

www.spunout.ie & www.teenline.ie & www.letsomeoneknow.ie & www.3ts.ie  

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