Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the news that less than half of assistant psychologists promised two years ago by the government are not in place as “pathetic”. Of the 114 assistant psychologist posts promised in 2017, only 55 are currently in place.

The Sinn Féin TD said it was another blatantly obvious reason why waiting lists are getting longer.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Ireland has one of the highest rates of mental health illness in Europe, ranking joint third out of the 36 countries surveyed in a new OECD report. Every day, we hear stories from families who are being let down by gaps in our mental health services.

“In 2017 the government pledged 114 post for assistant psychologists in the Primary Care service, that would work with a suitably qualified Psychologist. To date only 55 are currently in place.

“It is blatantly obvious to most people that if you are missing key personnel, waiting lists will get longer and longer, with vulnerable patients continuing to regress. Unfortunately, this hasn’t registered with the HSE and this government.

“7,485 people were waiting for an appointment with a psychologist at the end of June 2017, with 1,784 waiting for more than a year. By August this year this had risen to 9,044 people waiting for an appointment and 2,526 of them waiting more than a year.

“It is the poor, the less well off, the vulnerable, the hard pressed, the young, the aged, and those who most need the supports who are being impacted the most by these long waiting lists.

“We have an understaffed, underfunded, and under resourced mental health service. Sadly, it is now seems too much to expect that if the government and the HSE agree to hire additional staff, like assistant psychologists, to deal with critical shortages in crucial health care provision, that they would then abide by this promise and hire the necessary staff to tackle dangerously long waiting lists.”