The son of former President Patrick Hillery has resigned from his post as a psychiatrist in the HSE in protest at the state of mental health services which left him “ethically compromised”.
Dr John Hillery worked in the mental health and intellectual disability services for nearly 30 years.
He described how in his own case the lack of a respite service for young men with autism, who suffer behavioural distress, left him with no option but to prescribe them medication to relieve this.
It is the only way to provide some relief for their family who were caring for them and trying to cope without a break.
“Most of my colleagues are finding themselves in ethically compromising situations on a regular basis,” he warned.
He cited a lack of investment and staffing, combined with a “bureaucracy gone mad” attitude in the HSE, for making it more difficult for doctors to deliver the care patients need.
He referred to the recent decision of three child psychiatrists in the south-east to also quit. They revealed how they were working in a building with just a chair, barely blinds on the window and “snails on the walls”.
Dr Hillery, who was addressing the Family Carers Ireland conference Life After Care, also questioned the Government’s priorities.
The proposal to build a Metro link to the airport in Dublin is at risk of being at the expense of vulnerable people who are sick and disabled and desperate for support.
More than a decade after the Vision for Change document, which set out a blueprint to develop mental health services, its budget remains around half of what was recommended.
The HSE said since the establishment of its mental health division in 2013 there have been have been tangible service improvements. Since 2013 mental health expenditure has increased from €709m to €867m, an increase of 22pc.