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28 posts requested by Mental Health Commission remain open

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The Commission has repeatedly expressed concern about its staffing levels, given that a number of key posts remain unfilled, and has been in regular contact with the Department on the issue.

It requested 40 new posts in February of this year, as its staffing levels had “only increased marginally since our establishment in 2006”, despite an increase in workload.

At a meeting of the Commission senior management team in May 2017, Chief Executive Ms Patricia Gilheaney stated that despite ongoing discussions with the Department, a substantive response for the approval of posts remained outstanding.

Commission member Mr John Saunders confirmed that the MHC had been in regular contact with the Department on staffing for some time and that the last Commission had been asked to take a more proactive role in this area.

“In the discussion which followed, it was noted that although the Commission had submitted the organisation review report to the Department of Health in February, no sanction had yet been received to recruit for any of those requested posts,” according to the minutes.

“Members were also advised that sanction was also awaited to fill permanent posts in the Commission, which had fallen vacant due to staff obtaining promotional posts to other agencies/organisations. It was suggested that further direct action by the Commission may be required in the near future.”

Sanction was eventually received in August for 12 posts, which a spokesperson for the MHC said was “greatly appreciated”.

The spokesperson added that the Department has committed to review the remaining requests in the early part of next year and the Commission will continue in discussions with them on this matter.

In addition, a Director of the Decision Support Service has recently been appointed to the MHC and will be preparing a plan for all of the resources that this service will require.

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