TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams has received confirmation from the HSE that an additional €500,000 has been allocated across the State to the National Counselling Service.
Earlier in September Teachta Adams had raised the unacceptable waiting times for the National Counselling Service, which provides counselling for adults who experienced abuse while in the care of the State as children.
Gerry Adams said;
“I was horrified to learn that these vulnerable individuals, who were failed by the State when they were under its protection as children, were being failed again through these totally unacceptable waiting times for vital counselling therapy.
“In some areas people were waiting 16 months after their initial assessment to access a counsellor. This is an outrageous length of time for someone who is experiencing mental health problems, has requested help and has been assessed as needing therapy.
“In Louth & Meath the HSE has confirmed that with this extra money counselling has been offered to 28 individuals who had been on the waiting list for longer than 10 months.
“As a result of this additional funding – though it is far too little to meet the need – the waiting list in County Louth has reduced from 13 months to 10 months.
“While it is positive news that additional once off funding has been allocated to the National Counselling Service, it does not solve the problem.
“Vulnerable people should not have to wait for counselling and I will continue to lobby the Minister for Health to invest appropriately in this service.”
Sinn Fein TD for Louth Gerry Adams has criticised the lengthy therapy waits experienced by adult survivors of childhood abuse.
The TD made the following remarks on receipt of a response to a parliamentary question on the issue which indicated a waiting time in Louth of 6 weeks for initial assessment and 13 months for counselling.
Gerry Adams said;
“The HSE’s National Counselling Service was established in September 2000 and it primarily caters for adults who experienced abuse as children while in the care of the State.
“The response which I have received from the HSE indicates a wholly inadequate service to vulnerable people who have already been failed by the State.
“Across the State the waiting times for initial assessment vary between 4 weeks and 9 months while the waiting time for counselling varies between 6 and 16 months. It seems that in recovery Ireland access to necessary services for those abused as children is determined by location rather than need.”
“This PQ response further indicates that there is an issue in certain areas regarding staff vacancies with counsellors being redeployed to other areas as needed, thereby reducing overall provision.
“This is simply unacceptable and I have written to the Health Minister on foot of this response to find out what staff vacancies exists across this service, where vacancies are located and the reasons for the failure to recruit adequate staff numbers to perform this vital service.
“Adults who experienced abuse as children while under the protection of the State are a highly vulnerable cohort of citizens. They must not be further victimised through delays or denials of essential services.
“The HSE’s Mental Health Division has informed me that priority long waiters will be addressed through Programme for Government funding in 2016 and I have asked the Minister for further details on how this will impact on the Louth waiting times.”