Irish Mental Health Service Continues to Fail Vulnerable Patients
Access to mental health services has been a contentious topic in the Republic of Ireland for some time. A combination of a lack of funding and poor policy has led to a health care system in crisis, where children and adults are forced to wait an unacceptable length of time for even an initial consultation. The latest criticism of mental health treatment in Ireland comes after a damning report collated by the Children’s Rights Alliance charity.
Wherein it was found that more than 7,000 children are on a waiting list for mental health concerns. Further reports have found that over 1,200 adults have been waiting over three months to see a councillor. TD for Meath West Peadar Toibin has stated that ‘what is most distressing is that these are very vulnerable people and children that need help urgently.’ Indeed, when compared to other jurisdictions the failure to provide adequate mental health care in the Republic of Ireland is illuminated.
Access to mental health services in the UK has often come under heavy criticism. However, according to the NHS 14% of the UK’s health budget goes toward mental health treatment. In the Republic of Ireland only 6% of the health budget goes toward mental health. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the HSE and the Government have been heavily criticised for their approach to mental health treatment.
Tusla, the agency in charge of mental health treatment for children, and the HSE have had to send children to England for specialist mental health treatment as they do not have the capacity to provide the specialist treatment that is required. An application to the High Court must be made to obtain a referral for a child to receive mental health treatment outside of the Jurisdiction.
The High Court heard in 2015 that one such referral was costing €400,000.00 a year to provide treatment for an 18-year-old girl in England. This of course raises serious questions about why appropriate facilities and specialists cannot be accessed in the Republic of Ireland. In a developed country citizen’s have the right to an appropriate level of healthcare, this is being denied to those who suffer from mental illness in the Republic of Ireland.
One obvious reform would be to increase the health budget spending toward mental health treatment and increase the number of mental health specialists. If the poor standard of treatment has led to a deterioration in your mental health or caused you any other damage, then you may be able to make a claim for compensation arising out of the negligence of the HSE to provide adequate and timely treatment. Perhaps most concerning for patients is the length of time that they have to wait for their initial appointment.
The worst backlogs are in the West of Ireland and North Dublin, these people are often very vulnerable and in need of urgent treatment. Failure to provide this may give rise to a claim in negligence. At PA Duffy and Company, we specialise in medical negligence claims and are particularly active in promoting mental health care in Ireland and the UK.
Our expert solicitors provide a professional and compassionate service and will advise you on whether you have a viable claim.