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Oversight Group appoints GP following criticism over representation

The development comes following criticism about the lack of GP and primary care representation on the group, which held its first meeting in early October.

GP Dr Brian Osbourne has accepted an invitation to join the group; the invitation was issued following the first meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Health, which aims to achieve cross-party agreement on the implementation of a single, long-term vision for mental health care.

Mr Hugh Kane, chair of the oversight group, appeared before the Committee to inform members about its work to date and was questioned about the group’s membership by Committee Chairperson, Senator Joan Freeman.

Senator Freeman was eager to learn how members were chosen to be part of the group. Mr Kane responded that members were selected following discussions between himself and Department of Health officials, but that despite this input, he did not select members.

In advance of the meeting, Senator Freeman said Committee members are anxious to ensure the review “moves at pace, makes comprehensive suggestions and does not end up sitting on the shelf once published”.

“While the work of the oversight group is as yet at its beginning, we must ensure that the final recommendations are implementable and achievable. With this in mind, it is also planned that a successor policy to A Vision for Change will include a multi-annual implementation plan to inform the allocation of resources in future years,” Mr Kane remarked at the meeting.

A Department of Health spokesperson confirmed to the Medical Independent that membership of the group is now complete.

“No additional members of the oversight group will be sought; however, stakeholder consultations will be used to assist the oversight group and provide additional input into the process,” said the spokesperson.

Terms of reference for the group are still being finalised but will cover six specific areas, including: Primary and early intervention and positive mental health; integrated care between primary and secondary services; and the development of electronic or online mental health responses.

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