TD for Dublin Mid West Mark Ward has said the government must provide answers to questions regarding state funding for Pieta House. Speaking in the Dáil in recent days, Teachta Ward questioned the Minister for Health on the additional state funding of €343,824 per quarter for Pieta House.
Teachta Ward said: “Last week in the Dáil, I had a brief debate with Minister Simon Harris in relation to Pieta House and additional funding the government will be providing to the organisation during and post Covid-19. “In both oral and written responses from the Minister, he stated that there will be an additional funding of €114,608 per month or €343,824 per quarter to provide 300 hours of therapy per quarter for high risk clients.
“This works out at €1146 per hour for therapy sessions. The average cost for a private psychotherapy session is in the region of €70 to €120 per hour. “So, for example, 300 sessions at the higher level of €120 per hour would cost €36,000. The state is paying €343,824. That is a difference of €307,824 per quarter.
“I received information that some self-employed therapists who counselled clients for Pieta only charged the organisation €24 per hour. Yet the state is funding Pieta to the tune of €1146 per hour. “The government are already heavily invested in Pieta to the tune of €2.03 million per year, which covers the Helpline & Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officer (SBLO) service plus funding towards the organisations Suicide Bereavement & Intervention Crisis counselling Services.
“Pieta House has also availed of the wage subsidy scheme. Despite this, several clinical staff were let go and others offered redundancies. “I asked the Minister to inform the house exactly what services in Pieta House is the state funding being used for.
“Is any of this additional funding being used to pay for redundancies? “Does the Minister think that we are getting value for money at €1146 per therapy session when it would cost the state €120 privately or €24 per session from a self-employed therapist in Pieta House?
“He did not answer any of these questions. “Pieta house provides an essential service but it is only an essential service due to lack of investment in mental health services by your government and previous governments.”