Dáil Éireann - Volume 591 - 28 October, 2004

Written Answers. - Health Board Services.

  154. Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she has satisfied herself regarding the adequacy of numbers of psychologists available through the various health boards; if she plans to increase the numbers in line with current demands; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26599/04]

  Ms Harney: There has been an increase of more than 50% over the period from end-1999 to end-2003 in the number of personnel employed as psychologists in the health service. This represents an increase of 150 staff from 291 to 441, in whole time equivalent terms and has contributed to a significant increase in the volume of psychological services provided.

To continue to increase the number of psychologists employed in the health service in line with current and future demand, my Department is supporting the implementation of a key recommendation of the joint review group on psychological services in the health services to substantially increase the number of training places in clinical psychology from 30 to 50. A new model for supporting post-graduate clinical psychology training has been agreed jointly by my Depart[548] ment with the health boards’ directors of human resources. The model has underpinned the establishment of new courses at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the University of Limerick. My Department remains committed to working on an ongoing basis with health agencies, educational providers and the education authorities to ensure adequate provision of training places in clinical psychology.

In addition to increased training provision, the continued availability of the fast-track working visa scheme and the streamlining of procedures for the validation of overseas qualifications are designed to help sustain the improvements in staffing levels achieved for psychology services, both at local and national level.