Independent TD Mattie McGrath has launched a scathing attack on the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and the Minister of State Kathleen Lynch for what he has termed the near total dereliction of their duty to improve the provision of mental health services in the South East. Deputy McGrath made his comments after The Mental Health Commission published a damning report into mental health services in Carlow/Kilkenny and South Tipperary, and which also catalogued a high number of deaths by suicide between 2012 and 2014:
“It is inconceivable how the Minister for Health is essentially walking away from these grave issues with his political integrity intact.
Then again it is easy to be described as the ‘Teflon Minister,’ when you show a marked reluctance to roll up your sleeves and deal with the practicalities of the matters at hand.
If you don’t get your hands dirty how can anything stick to you?
This is the option that the Minister appears to have chosen and it is also the one that best displays his political cowardice.
At least James Reilly had the grace to demonstrate a less robotic response to these very human tragedies.
The current Minister on the other hand is doggedly sticking to his ‘detached observer role’ in terms of the management of the Country’s health policy.
It is no use in saying that these are new issues or that warnings had not been flagged.
In June 2014 a group of consultant psychiatrists in the Carlow-Kilkenny-South Tipperary Mental Health Services withdrew confidence in the clinical management of the service, which they believed at the time to be unsafe.
They spoke at that time of being “devalued” and “ignored” in their attempts to raise their concerns internally in the HSE.
We now know that essentially nothing has changed.
Minister Varadkar needs to come out of his media bubble, leave the long play for party leadership aside and get down to the task that he has been assigned.
The mental health patients of this Country deserve nothing less,” concluded Deputy McGrath.