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Tensions emerge between mental health groups over strategy review

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI) before the launch of the second interim report by the Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care, Minister Jim Daly said in relation to the previous strategy, A Vision for Change, that there was no need to “reinvent the wheel”.

“I don’t think we need to begin again from the start,” the Minister told this paper.

“I don’t want to pre-empt the results of the review and I don’t want to undermine the work that is ongoing there. But my own personal view is that I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel. We need to tidy certain things up, but we don’t need to reinvent the strategy.”

The Minister also emphasised the challenges of preparing a strategic vision for mental health services, while at the same time addressing current deficiencies in service provision.

“It is a big body of work,” the Minister said.

“There are a lot of aspects arising. It is not something that is lying dormant at the moment. We are continually trying to build on the ambitions of A Vision for Change. But it is a document that needs constant review, as instances show and illustrate as they arise. They highlight the emerging challenges in the whole area of mental health and trying to move from institutional care into care in the community. We have huge numbers presenting this year in teenagers alone. We expect about 12,000 to 14,000 presentations. So the challenges are enormous. And they all have to feed into the review as well. So it is a parallel process.”

The second interim report from the Joint Committee, which was recently launched, makes a number of recommendations, including the need to develop a “realistic” plan and timeframe for the provision of 24/7 crisis intervention teams nationally and a national plan specifically to address capacity in primary care Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

In addition, the report calls for increased funding and recruitment to address service deficiencies.

The Joint Committee also notes the difficulty in securing “meaningful engagement” with the oversight group established by the Department of Health tasked with reviewing and proposing an update to Vision.

Until it received the oversight group’s work programme, the Joint Committee was unaware that a detailed report had been completed, which maps current service provision against A Vision for Change.

The Joint Committee has not yet seen this report.

“The oversight group has been planning a stakeholder consultation, which is due to commence shortly,” according to the Committee.

“The Joint Committee is concerned at the delay in receiving the work programme and that it omits any reference to the existence or work of the Joint Committee including, for example, its public hearings with stakeholders. The Joint Committee recommends that the stakeholder consultation planned to commence in April 2018 should not proceed until there has been meaningful engagement between the oversight group and the Joint Committee.”

The final report of the Joint Committee is due to be completed by October of this year.

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