Addicts To Benefit From Psychiatric Care Plan

YOUNG people addicted to cocaine, suffering from eating disorders, or with suicidal tendencies are to benefit from a €100m expansion in services by the largest independent mental health care service in the country.

St Patrick’s Hospital will today outline an ambitious five-year strategy focusing on introducing community-based services at various locations across the country in an effort to alleviate the crisis in mental health care.

Among the new initiatives planned are a child and adolescent service, an addictions programme for 18-25 year olds, and a mental health treatment centre for the elderly.

It comes after a HSE review revealed yesterday that more than 1,000 children are waiting over a year for vital psychiatric assessments in Ireland.

Paul Gilligan, chief executive of St Patrick’s Hospital, said yesterday: “There’s been a damning report from the Irish Psychiatric Association recently pointing out that there’s asset stripping going on one side, there isn’t community services, that a lot of hospital-based psychiatric wards are in terrible condition, and that there’s a crisis in mental health treatment.

“St Pat’s are saying that this can’t continue and . . . we’re prepared to work to try to resolve this problem alongside developments within the HSE.”

It is estimated that ‘Vision For Change’ (the 2006 Government blueprint for the development of mental health services) will involve €150m in non-capital investment over seven to 10 years.

“We spent €200m over the last five years in service provision and . . . we will spend €300m over the next five,” Mr Gilligan said.

“We are a not-for-profit organisation. ‘Vision For Change’ is a national strategy and I think our investment indicates how minimal the government investment is, and even that is currently in question.”

St Patrick’s, which currently has centres in inner city Dublin and in Lucan, will open a number of other clinics in the capital in the short term before looking to develop clinics in Cork, Galway, Limerick, the south east and the north east. VHI Healthcare will partner the hospital in the plans.