Government failing mental health again with no increase in real terms in Budget 2022
People Before Profit TD and spokesperson on Health Gino Kenny TD has said today that the actual figures in Budget 2022 on the increase of ICU beds in the health service are “derisory” and shows that the government more concerned with spin and are unwilling to tackle to chronic issues in the health system.
He said: “In December 2020 the Minister announced plans to increase ICU beds to 446 beds. At the end of this year, it’s expected we will have 321 beds. But in yesterday’s budget, the Government announced that they will add just 19 additional beds in 2022- a completely derisory amount, to bring the total to 340 ICU beds at the end of next year.
“We had just 255 ICU beds at the start of the pandemic, putting Ireland close to the bottom of the OECD in ICU beds per capita, and less than half the OECD average. This lack of ICU bed capacity was one of the main reasons Ireland had amongst the longest lockdowns in Europe.
“Reaching the government’s own 446 target is the minimum that’s needed as early as possible in 2022, and we need to move rapidly on to 560 to 580 ICU beds to reach the OECD per capita average.
“But if the Government is adding just 19 ICU beds per year, it will be 2034 before we reach the ICU bed capacity we need.”
Deputy Kenny also slammed the failure of the government to make any progress on increasing the mental health budget in real terms.
“Last week the Mental Health Reform group and more than 50 leaders in the community and voluntary sector signed an open letter calling on An Taoiseach to prioritise funding for mental health services in the budget.
“Minister Butler announced a €37m increase in funding for mental health services, plus a €10m once-off allocation for Covid related services. This is a pitiful 3.3% increase for (ongoing) mental health services in 2022. But the annual inflation rate is above that now, at 3.7%, and heading higher. So, the reality is there will be no real increase in funding for mental health services in 2022.
“This also means that mental health funding will make no progress in 2022 towards receiving 12% of the overall health budget, the internationally recognised benchmark recommended by the World Health Organisation. As is the case this year, mental health funding will account for a little over 5% of overall health funding again 2022.”
Deputy Kenny will raise these issues during his speaking slot on the Budget in the Dáil at approximately 5.45pm today.