Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has expressed disappointment at the failure by the Minister for Mental Health to address the issue of psychologists working for free while in training.
Teachta Ward was speaking after yesterday’s health budget press conference.
The Dublin Mid-West TD said:
“This budget does not go far enough to address the problems in our mental health service, with the issue of unpaid work by trainee educational psychologists being allowed to continue.
“Yesterday at the health budget press conference Minister Mary Butler announced only €750,000 for Counselling and Psychology Training Places in a new HSE initiative.
“We are seeking clarification of where and how this funding will be allocated.
“I am disappointed at the lack of pay equity amongst trainee psychologists, particularly at a time of emergency within our mental health services.
“Educational psychologists work in the area of learning development of children, clinical psychologists work in the area of mental health disorder study and counselling psychologists help patients to address emotional social or physical stressors in their lives.
“Yesterday, the president of the Psychological Society of Ireland, Mark Smyth, expressed his disappointed that the issue of trainee educational psychologists being expected to work for free is allowed to continue.
“There should not be a pay disparity between each of the groups while in training.
“Sinn Féin committed to funding both trainee counselling and educational psychology posts on the same basis as trainee clinical psychologists as part of our workforce planning in our alternative budget.
“I challenged the Minister in the Dáil yesterday to employ these trainee psychologists following their training, after it was revealed that despite €38 million being spent by the HSE for training, no jobs were offered over the last five years.
“To echo Mark Smyth’s comments, “no trainee psychologists deserve to be left behind”, and yet this seems to be view held by government.
“Throughout the year I have met with numerous organisations representing psychologists and I have heard their concerns.
“We are serious about addressing their concerns and we will ensure that no one will be left behind with a Sinn Féin government.”