During today’s Dáil statements on the Winter Plan, Róisín Shortall TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, raised the glaring omission of mental health and disability services from the plan.

Deputy Shortall said:

“Disgracefully, the Winter Plan has conspicuously omitted any provision for mental health or disability services over the coming months.

“Mental health services were already significantly under-funded prior to Covid-19. The additional demand now from people both young and old, who are struggling to cope with social isolation and new restrictions on the way they live their lives, has put providers under extreme pressure.

“Dealing with the impact of Covid-19, mental health services not only need serious catch-up funding, but they also now require a special allocation to cope with the surge in referrals.

“No enhanced funding was allocated in the Winter Plan for disability services, and the additional €10 million announced over the weekend is woefully inadequate. Covid-19 has layered substantial extra costs on top of an already-underfunded sector for increased staffing, infection prevention and transport, to name but a few. The result is a Winter Plan that has completely abandoned a very vulnerable group.

“Last week, Jigsaw reported a fifty percent increase in demand for its services. Today, St John of God announced that they can no longer cope without sufficient funding and have handed their services over to the HSE. Ninety-two percent of Mental Health Reform members have said they require additional resources to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

“There is no confusion here. Disability and mental health services are under extreme pressure with the additional strain of Covid-19. Ignoring this need in the Winter Plan will only serve to compound the difficulties many of these providers are already facing.

“These services are critical to the functioning of our health service and to keep people healthy and out of acute settings. We cannot allow the strain of Covid-19 to shutter their doors. They need to be funded properly to ensure they get the help they need throughout this difficult winter.”

October 1, 2020

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