Working in the Community, Working for the Community

Press Statement on Mental Health

 

Healy says people being failed by our Mental Health
System and calls for a big turn-out at Thursday’s
meeting in Clonmel’s Park Hotel.

During Leader’s Questions on Thursday 26 th of April
Deputy Healy said:

“Children with Mental Health difficulties and their
parents face immense challenges to get an adequate,
or indeed any, service. Due to this, many children carry
those difficulties into their adult lives.
The position would be much worse were it not for the
tremendous work done by community and voluntary
organisations across the country. There are many such
organisations in my own area, including the River Suir
Suicide Patrol, Taxi Watch and C-SAW, the community
suicide awareness workers. These all operate on a
voluntary, unpaid basis and do tremendous work.
There is huge frustration among these organisations,
which feel alone in dealing with issues that should be
properly dealt with by the public mental health service.
These organisations need to be acknowledged,
supported and resourced, along with financial support.

Press Statement on Mental Health

We are failing to provide for our young people. We
need to do so urgently, it must become a Government
priority. We cannot, should not, and hopefully, will not
kick the can further down the road in this. They need
to be implemented urgently not in the next budget but
now, because this is something that is affecting young
people on a minute by minute basis.

Children and young people are being failed by our
mental health system. For the past three months since
February, young people experiencing mental health
difficulties have been admitted to the paediatric ward
in South Tipperary General Hospital. Today, there are
three young people on the ward. There have been as
many as five and their lengths of stay have been as
long as eight weeks. The reason for this, as we all
know, is that there are simply not enough inpatient
beds for young people with mental health difficulties.

Admissions to the paediatric ward in South Tipperary
General Hospital are totally inappropriate.

Nursing staff do their best. They are kind,
compassionate and caring but they are not trained to

Press Statement on Mental Health

provide mental health care. Parents, usually mothers,
must stay on the ward overnight to give support to
their children. Of course, there are knock-on effects in
delayed admissions for other patients.
Every day, young people with mental health difficulties
do not receive the age-appropriate timely services and
supports they need. This causes psychological and
social damage to these young people. It has a
detrimental effect, not just on themselves, but also on
their parents, their siblings, their schools and their
communities. Of course, it reinforces the whole stigma
regarding those with mental health difficulties.

We all know what needs to be done. We have had
report after report. The problem is we have had no
action on those reports or their recommendations.
I remind the Tánaiste that to tackle this significant
issue, we need:
1. additional inpatient beds for children and young
people with mental health difficulties
2. 24-7 crisis intervention teams providing rapid
assessment for those children and young people
3. a comprehensive primary care counselling service
4. a fully staffed existing child and adolescent mental
health teams

Press Statement on Mental Health
5. to resource and support, including financially,
community and voluntary organisations working in
these areas
6. a designated leader – a tsar-type arrangement –
whose sole duty and responsibility will be to drive
the implementation of these measures to ensure
our young people get the services they deserve
and need urgently. It should be like how cancer
care services developed recently

When will we see these measures being implemented
by the Government?

***END***

Link to full Dáil Speech in Leader’s Questions and An
Tánaiste’s Response:
http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20aut
horing/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2018042600015
?opendocument

Seamus Healy T.D.
087 2802199

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Leaders Questions 26 April 2018

Today in the Dáil I raised during Leaders Questions the serious issue of our children and young people being failed by our mental health system.
Children and their parents face immense challenges to get an adequate, or indeed any, service. Due to this, many children carry those difficulties into their adult lives.
 
The position would be much worse were it not for the tremendous work done by community and voluntary organisations across the country. There are many such organisations in my own area, including the River Suir Suicide Patrol, Taxi Watch and C-SAW, the community suicide awareness workers. These all operate on a voluntary, unpaid basis and do tremendous work. There is huge frustration among these organisations, which feel alone in dealing with issues that should be properly dealt with by the public mental health service. These organisations need to be acknowledged, supported and resourced, along with financial support.
 
We are failing to provide for our young people. We need to do so urgently, it must become a Government priority. We cannot, should not, and hopefully, will not kick the can further down the road in this. They need to be implemented urgently not in the next budget but now, because this is something that is affecting young people on a minute by minute basis.
Leaders Questions 26 April 2018
Deputy Seamus Healy: Children and young people are being failed by our mental health system. For the past three months since February, young people experiencing mental health difficulties have been admitted to the paediatric ward in South Tipperary General Hospital. Today, there are three young people on the ward. There have been as many as five and their lengths of stay have been as long as eight weeks. The reason for this, as we all know, is that there are simply not enough inpatient beds for young people with mental health difficulties.
 
Admissions to the paediatric ward in South Tipperary General Hospital are totally inappropriate. Nursing staff do their best. They are kind, compassionate and caring but they are not trained to provide mental health care. Parents, usually mothers, must stay on the ward overnight to give support to their children. Of course, there are knock-on effects in delayed admissions for other patients. Every day, young people with mental health difficulties do not receive the age-appropriate timely services and supports they need. This causes psychological and social damage to these young people. It has a detrimental effect, not just on themselves, but also on their parents, their siblings, their schools and their communities. Of course, it reinforces the whole stigma regarding those with mental health difficulties. Children and their parents face immense challenges to get an adequate, or indeed any, service. Due to this, many children carry those difficulties into their adult lives.
 
We all know what needs to be done. We have had report after report. The problem is we have had no action on those reports or their recommendations. I remind the Tánaiste that to tackle this significant issue, we need additional inpatient beds for children and young people with mental health difficulties and 24-7 crisis intervention teams providing rapid assessment for those children and young people. We need a comprehensive primary care counselling service and a fully staffed existing child and adolescent mental health teams. We also need to resource and support, including financially, community and voluntary organisations working in these areas. We need a designated leader – a tsar-type arrangement – whose sole duty and responsibility will be to drive the implementation of these measures to ensure our young people get the services they deserve and need urgently. It should be like how cancer care services developed recently.
 
When will we see these measures being implemented by the Government?
 
The Tánaiste: I will ask the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, to revert to the Deputy with more details on South Tipperary General Hospital after Leaders’ Questions. He is aware of some of the cases to which the Deputy referred and he has spoken to some of the parents involved.
 
Staffing and necessary skills shortages need to be addressed in the context of extra beds. Up to €55 million of additional funding has been committed for next year to develop new services, which will involve ten new beds in the Central Mental Hospital and 20 new child and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS, beds coming to the new children’s hospital. There is a recognition that there is a deficit. We are providing significant resources to address that.
 
On the broader mental health service issues, funding this year is almost €1 billion at €910 million. That is an increase of €200 million since 2012. In excess of 2,000 new posts have been approved since 2012, of which over 1,300, 66%, have been recruited with recruitment ongoing for the remainder. The appointment of 114 assistant psychologists and 20 staff grade psychologists for primary care child psychology services is ongoing. A series of actions are happening which are linked to reports which have been done. This represents incremental improvement all the time.
 
However, I am aware there are certain pressure points in different parts of the country. This is a particularly sensitive area in child and adolescent mental health services. We have seen significant increases in funding and funding commitments with the staff and beds that need to go with that. The challenge is ongoing. I will ask the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, to come back to the Deputy with a more detailed answer on services in Tipperary.
 
Deputy Seamus Healy: While I thank the Tánaiste for the reply, we cannot continue to kick this can down the road. These issues must be dealt with urgently. The Tánaiste referred to recruitment. There are currently 500 psychiatric nurse vacancies in this country. The position would be much worse were it not for the tremendous work done by community and voluntary organisations across the country. There are many such organisations in my own area, including the River Suir Suicide Patrol, Taxi Watch and C-SAW, the community suicide awareness workers. These all operate on a voluntary, unpaid basis and do tremendous work. There is huge frustration among these organisations, which feel alone in dealing with issues that should be properly dealt with by the public mental health service. These organisations need to be acknowledged, supported and resourced, along with financial support.
 
We are failing to provide for our young people. We need to do so urgently, it must become a Government priority. We cannot, should not, and hopefully, will not kick the can further down the road in this. They need to be implemented urgently not in the next budget but now, because this is something that is affecting young people on a minute by minute basis.
 
 
The Tánaiste: I reaffirm to the Deputy that no one is kicking the can down the road on anything here. It is a programme of action that is already under way. The construction of a national forensic mental health complex at Portrane is progressing well and should be completed by 2020. There are other improvements such as in counselling services, including new Jigsaw sites in Cork, Dublin and Limerick, to bring a total of 13 sites nationally, and there is continued development of the community mental health teams and improved 24-7 response and liaison services are improving the contact within communities. An eating disorder care programme was launched in January 2018, which is patient-centred in care and recovery. In line with the provisions of A Vision for Change, the HSE has prioritised mental health needs for those under 18 years. We are focusing on reducing CAMHS waiting lists and improving mental health teams. There are currently 69 CAMHS teams nationally. The Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, is working with the HSE and officials to establish a national telephone and text line for mental health services, and the list goes on. There are a lot of things happening in this area but there is a lot more to be done, and we recognise that.

Gaelscoil Chuain Meala – Light at the End of the Tunnel

After 24 years the Department of Education has approved the tendering process for Gaelscoil Chluain Meala with a target date for the commencement of construction of the second quarter of 2019.
Tenders will issue in the next few weeks for the completion of a panel of suitably qualified builders to carry out the work.
On the completion of this list, tender documents for the construction of the school will issue to the qualified contractors.
Assessment of tenders will follow with a target date for commencement of construction at the second quarter of 2019.
The construction work involves, what is effectively a new school at the rear, in the Old County Council Machinery yard and the refurbishment of the existing building.

The school which opened its doors in September 1994 has gone from strength to strength buts its accommodation is substandard, overcrowded and not fit for purpose.

This is a very welcome development and great credit is due to the whole school community at Gaelscoil Chluain Meala, parents, pupils, teachers and Board of Management. Mar a deireann an seanfhocal, “Ní neart go cur le chéile.”

Seamus Healy TD
15 th April 2018
0872802199

The Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee says Thanks!

Save-Our-Acute-Hospital-Services (1).png

Clonmel, 18th February 2018- The recent approval of new developments at South Tipperary General Hospital, including a 40-bed modular unit, capital investment for a 50-bed new-construct unit and improved out-patient facilities proves once again that people power works.

 

The Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee welcomes developments at the hospital and commends and thanks all those who played a part in this very positive and significant outcome including the public, patients and their families, hospital staff, local public representatives and Oireachtas members.

 

Were it not for the Committees project and success in stopping the transfer of all the hospitals acute services to Kilkenny and Waterford, the future developments of the hospital as announced this week would never have happened.  That success was a game-changer for the hospitals future development.

 

The knowledge that 15,000 people from all over Tipperary and indeed parts of County Waterford turned out on the streets of Clonmel and, importantly, that they would turn out again if necessary sent a message to the Health Service Executive, the Department of Health and the Government that could not be ignored.  South Tipperary General Hospital must be retained and developed.  And, again, I would like to commend those that took to the streets.  The publics continued contribution is vital to the hospital and it sets South Tipperary General apart.  

 

South Tipperary was alone in defying the powers-that-be in stopping the transfer of services and the downgrading of the hospital.  The Health Service Executive and the Department of Health succeeded in downgrading Nenagh, Ennis, Mallow, Monaghan and Roscommon.

 

The success of the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee established a platform for the future upgrading of the hospital, for the development of services and for a solution to the trolley crisis.

 

The Committee, working on a united basis with all stakeholders, met successive Ministers for Health including Minister James Reilly, Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister Simon Harris to impress upon them the need to solve overcrowding and to develop the hospital.

 

The Committees job now is to ensure that the promises made are implemented, and as speedily as possible, and to that effect the committee is again meeting the South West Hospital Group and South Tipperary General Hospital Management on Monday the 19th of February to progress the construction of the 40-bed modular unit.

 

The closure of St. Michael’s In-patient Psychiatric Unit at South Tipperary General Hospital by the Minister Kathleen Lynch was a huge blow to patients and their families and it is now widely accepted to have been a mistake.  South Tipperary patients must now travel to Kilkenny for in-patient treatment and North Tipperary patients to Ennis.  This is totally impractical and is leading to late admissions, inappropriate early discharges, severe over-crowding and harrowing difficulties for patients and their families who must travel to support their loved ones.

 

The Committee and Oireachtas members have already met Mr. Jim Daly, Minister with responsibility for Mental Health Services with a view to returning in-patient beds to Clonmel.  The Minister will visit the services in Clonmel on Tuesday the 20th of February to see the situation for himself and to engage with members of the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee, Mental Health Services Management and Oireachtas members on the issue.

 

There have been positive exchanges with the Minister and local Health Service Executive Mental Health Management recently.

 

The Committee and all stake-holders are determined that in-patient psychiatric beds will be returned to Clonmel.

 

Seamus Healy T.D. Chairperson Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee

087 2802199

052 6121883

seamus.healy@oir.ie

Tipperary Snubbed in National Development Plan

Clonmel, 18 th February, 2018- An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s spin machine, “The Strategic Communications Unit”, funded by taxpayers, choreographed the launch of the National Planning Framework: Project Ireland 2040 on Friday. A more realistic title would read, “National Planning Framework: Pie-in- the-Sky- 2040”. Despite the hype and the fan-fare, the Fine Gael plan has almost entirely snubbed County Tipperary. Like Fianna Fáil’s National Spatial Strategy before it, no Tipperary town is earmarked as a growth centre or prioritised for investment or job creation.
Instead, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Sligo, Athlone, Letterkenny, Drogheda and Dundalk are the urban areas favoured for future growth.
This means these towns and cities will have key strategic and economic advantages over all towns in County Tipperary.
Put another way, Tipperary towns will be systematically discriminated against.
In effect, Limerick, Cork and Waterford in particular will suck the lifeblood, the investment, the growth and the jobs from Tipperary.
Motorway status for the N24 Roadway has also been ignored for the umpteenth time. The N24 is a key economic and social driver for the South of the County but it is also sub-standard and is dangerous in many areas.
Tipperary town will continue to be choked by thousands of vehicles including heavy goods vehicles driving through its main street. There will be no by-pass either for Carrick-on- Suir.
The Fine Gael/Independent Alliance government, supported by Fianna Fáil, has made a deliberate political choice to discriminate against Tipperary.
The plan in reality re-announces 179 projects and €40 billion expenditure, with the rest fuzzy, un-costed and with little or no time-line.
Expenditure of €116 billion is used to give the impression of a significant increase in spending but when population growth and use of Gross National Income instead of Gross Domestic Product are taken into account, the investment proposed is modest at best, rising from 2.9% in 2018 to 4.1% in 2027, still below the European average.
The much-hyped Climate and Energy section of the plan will, by the Taoiseach’s own admission, miss the EU Climate and Energy agreed targets by a whopping 60%. He also raised the prospect of new taxes in this area.
And the plan’s promises on housing are frankly, incredible, given the governments appalling record to date. Fine Gael has presided over an unprecedented Housing and Homelessness crisis, with sky-high rents, continued repossessions and home ownership being out of the reach of ordinary families.
The Government are fooling no-one with this plan.
I will be raising these issues strongly on the floor of the Dáil during the week and demanding the inclusion of growths centres in Co. Tipperary and the upgrade of the N24 to motorway status.
Deputy Seamus Healy
087 2802199
052 6121883
seamus.healy@oir.ie

Tipperary Roads in Atrocious Condition

I welcome the motion, which I will support. I will also support the Sinn Féin amendment. It is fine for Deputies living in Dublin and other major cities but if they had to drive around rural constituencies every week, as rural Deputies must, they would find that local and regional roads are in an atrocious condition. It is barely possible to drive on many of them and the rural bus service about which Deputy Eamon Ryan spoke cannot operate on some of them because they are so bad. From Carrick-on-Suir to Gortnahoe and Littleton, from Ballingarry to Hollyford and Upperchurch and from Clogheen to Lower Ormond, the roads are in a disgraceful condition. As a former Ceann Comhairle and Tipperary man, the Deputy Séan Treacy, once said, one could bury one of Burke’s pigs in the potholes in Tipperary. One could now bury a lorry load of Burke’s pigs in the potholes of the county’s local and regional roads. The position is so bad the chief executive officer of Tipperary County Council, Mr. Joe McGrath, wrote to Deputies about two weeks ago stating the following:
[I]t is acknowledged that there has been an accelerating deterioration in regional and local roads which is directly attributable to the deficit in investment on these roads over successive years during the economic downturn. the investment deficit on roads (ie the amount of spend necessary to restore these roads to an acceptable standard and within an acceptable timeframe) in Tipperary is estimated at €180 million.
Mr. McGrath was referring to regional and local roads as opposed to motorways. The condition of these roads is exacerbated by repeated incidence of flooding and extreme weather events. Mr. McGrath also noted that for comparison purposes, “the total national allocation of €416.8 million for 2018 is still only about tow thirds of the Non National roads Allocation in 2008”. We have a serious problem with local and regional roads.
We should remember that these are the roads on which people living locally go to work and school, do their business, farm, shop and go to sports fixtures or religious events. They use them in normal daily living and in very many cases their cars are being damaged, with people hardly able to drive on some of the roads because they are so bad. We need an emergency allocation of funding for these roads immediately. We need the Minister and his Government to honour the commitment made in the programme for Government to increase funding for these roads by 50%.
In the minute or so left to me, I want to refer to the N24. As the Minister knows very well, the N24 is a social and economic lifeline for the south east, including Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford city and county. It is not fit for purpose and despite its importance, the N24 suffers from slow journey times and is substandard in its design and alignment. It is congested where it is routed through a number of towns and villages, including Tipperary town, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir. The vitality and growth of those towns and villages on that route is also dependent on the removal of heavy traffic from them. For example, thousands of vehicles, including huge lorries, are going straight through the main street in Tipperary town on a daily basis. They are destroying businesses, roads and the town. We have been seeking a bypass of the town for over 20 years and it is now time to deliver on it. We certainly hope it will be in the capital programme to be announced next Friday. The N24 is substandard but it is vital to the south-east area. A bypass is also needed for Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir.
We need an emergency allocation for the local and regional roads and we want the 50% increase that was promised delivered immediately. When the chief executive of the local authority wrote to us, he said he had written to the Minister, Deputy Ross, seeking agreement to meet to outline the accelerated deterioration in parts of the road network, with particular emphasis on non-national roads.
I ask the Minister to accede to the request to meet a deputation from Tipperary.

Shameful Discrimination Against Women Pensioners – Change this unfair Joan Burton (Labour Party) law

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Social Welfare Bill 2017. Women, in particular, are being discriminated against and being treated unfairly and unequally by our social welfare system, specifically in the rules and regulations governing the State pension entitlement. The averaging of bands and minimum contribution changes made by the former Minister, Deputy Burton, in 2012 mean that women are being seriously disadvantaged and discriminated against. Of course, the Government is continuing that discrimination and inequity in this Social Welfare Bill. Everybody is aware of this situation, which has been raised by Members across the House.
The Minister recently gave the impression that she would deal with the problem or at least make a start at treating women fairly in State pension entitlement. We understood that a memorandum was to go to Cabinet on 14 November to make a start on the various changes. However, that has not happened. The changes were not made and are not included in the Bill. I raised this issue in the budget debate on 10 October. I particularly raised the changes made by Deputy Burton in 2012. These changes affected approximately 25,000 women. Many of their pensions were reduced and some pensions were wiped out altogether. Some women were made dependent on their spouses or partners.
It has been suggested that it would cost about €70 million to reverse the 2012 changes with somewhat higher figures for retrospective backdating of the changes made. There is no doubt that that money is readily available. This is a very wealthy country and choices were made by this Government and the previous Government that could have been different and could have tackled this issue. The Government could still tackle the issue. In recent budgets approximately €100 million a year was given back to the top 5% of earners, people whose average income would have been €180,000 per annum. We could have used the tax forgone in the next 21 years as a result of not taxing the banks. Of course, we could use the moneys available that we will discuss tomorrow when we debate the Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill 2017, where the Government proposes to give a €15,000 pension increase to former taoisigh, such as Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen. There are choices the Government could have made and should make to give proper treatment to women who have been disadvantaged and discriminated against in regard to the State pension.

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