Dáil Éireann - Volume 488 - 11 March, 1998
Written Answers - Psychiatric Services.
Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin
80. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to an article (details supplied) which alleged that psychiatric patients, who may be a danger to both themselves and to others, are being discharged from psychiatric hospitals due to a lack of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6575/98]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen) Brian Cowen
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): The policy document Planning for the Future published in 1984 has been accepted by successive Governments as a blueprint for the development of mental health services. A key recommendation of that document is that a community-based mental health service be developed to replace the traditional model of care which relied predominantly on in-patient treatment in psychiatric hospitals.
Substantial progress has been made in recent years in implementing this policy and in ensuring that those in need of mental health services receive care and treatment in the most appropriate setting. Health boards have developed and  are continuing to develop a modern, comprehensive community-based mental health service. This has resulted in a continuing decline in the number of in-patients with a corresponding increase in the provision of a range of care facilities based in the community to complement in-patient services.
I have seen the article referred to by the Deputy. I do not accept that there is a funding crisis in the service or that patients are discharged as a cost saving measure. Decisions relating to discharges from in-patient care are based solely on the clinical needs of patients. In the health board area to which the article mainly relates, I understand that protocols are in place in relation to patients being discharged home and such patients are followed up in the community by the board's community and mental health service.
Dáil Éireann 488 Written Answers Psychiatric Services.