Page last updated at 07:40 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 08:40 UK

Mental health services criticised

Model posing as a depressed man holding his face - pic science photo library
One in four people in NI suffer mental illness at some stage - SPL picture posed by model

Mental health treatment in Northern Ireland has not improved much six years after a major review of services began, according to several health groups.

The Bamford Review examined services for people with mental illness and learning disabilities.

The government produced a report based on Bamford's findings, and a public consultation on this ends on Friday.

In a joint statement, five groups criticised this report as being "disappointingly light" on detail.

One in four of Northern Ireland's population are affected by some form of mental illness at some point in their lives.

The organisations - including the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society - said problems of under-staffing across all areas were not being adequately addressed.

For too long, they have been the Cinderella services within health and social care and I am determined to change that
Michael McGimpsey
Health minister
They said a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to create world-class mental health and learning disability services had been missed.

They welcomed the commitment "to better the lives of people with mental health problems and learning disabilities and tackle social exclusion," but said there was serious concern about whether and how it would happen.

Among other criticisms, the professionals claimed there was not enough money in the budget to implement the proposals or enough trained staff to carry out the recommendations.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said he had "fought hard" to secure an extra 44m to improve the services over the next three years in line with recommendations in the Bamford Review.

"It is clear that our mental health and learning disability services in Northern Ireland need to be improved," Mr McGimpsey said.

"For too long, they have been the Cinderella services within health and social care and I am determined to change that.

"That is why I fought hard in the budget and was able to secure an extra 44m to begin to modernise mental health and learning disability services over the next three years, in line with the Bamford recommendations."


SEE ALSO
Mental health taskforce is set up
31 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland

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