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At its Board meeting in June, the MHC discussed a meeting the Commission had with the Committee on 20 June.
“Disappointment was expressed at the knowledge of the Committee of the MHC and its functions,” according to the minutes of the meeting.
“It was noted that the profile of the MHC needs to be addressed and how best that might be achieved is something that should be discussed.”
The Chair, Mr John Saunders, noted that the Chair of the Committee, Senator Joan Freeman, had said she would write to the Commission on the matter.
“However, the Chair [Mr Saunders] took the view that the MHC should be proactive and write to her [Senator Freeman] on the key issues for the MHC,” the minutes stated.
The Committee recently published its final report, which contained a number of recommendations on ways to improve mental health services.
During the meeting, concerns were also expressed about the fact that there is no longer a dedicated National Director for Mental Health within the HSE.
“It was noted that other agencies, such as HIQA, have regular meetings with the HSE,” the minutes stated. “The MHC did have similar meetings but they fell away. It was agreed that new lines of communication need to be opened up with the HSE — the Director General’s office and the new National Director, David Walsh — and other relevant organisations. The Executive is to progress this.”
It was also noted, in relation to human resources, that only one of the 32 posts for which the Commission obtained sanction last year is vacant.
The Interim Chief Executive Ms Rosemary Smyth stated that five key posts had to be re-advertised.
Ms Smyth “also noted that a huge amount of time and effort was required from the Executive in relation to these recruitments”.
“She noted in relation to the vacant post, which related to [a] HR position, the criteria were reviewed and amended and has been re-advertised. She also noted that due to issues with IT, which would come up under Risk, that we sought and have obtained sanction for a more senior IT post.”
Given the progress made in filling posts, it was agreed that the “issue of resources should be reduced on the Risk Register and eliminated in certain areas,” according to the minutes.