‘Does It Cost The State €1,146 Per Therapy Session?’


Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward questioned the funding to Pieta House


The Dáil, Leinster House.

Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health Simon to explain how the funding of €346,000 per quarter to suicide charity Pieta House – to cover 300 hours of therapy per quarter for high-risk clients – is being spent.

Mark Ward: “I will ask a brief question and the Minister’s response will allow me to ask any further questions I may need to. Last week we had a brief discussion about Pieta House and the additional services that will be provided during and post Covid-19. Will the Minister clarify whether the 300 hours that he stated will be provided for therapy for high-risk clients are per month or per quarter?”

Simon Harris: “According to my note, it is 300 hours per quarter. The funding is being provided to fund an additional 300 hours for high-risk clients and the quarterly review will ensure that any client who commences a programme of support can have reasonable assurance of its completion. The cashflow supports are also contingent on a continuation between the HSE and Pieta House. I will confirm that in writing to the Deputy but that is my understanding.”

Ward: “Last week the Minister stated there was additional funding of more than €343,000 to provide 300 hours of therapy per quarter for high-risk clients. I also have a written response from the Minister that reiterates that.

This works out at €1,146 per hour for therapy sessions. The average cost of a psychotherapy session is in the region of €70 to €120 per hour. If, for example, 300 sessions were charged at the higher end of the average – €120 per hour – that would cost the State €36,000. The State is paying Pieta House more than €343,000 to provide the same service. That is a difference of €307,000 per quarter.

I have also received information from some self-employed therapists who have contacted me and other members of my party and who counsel clients for Pieta House. They charge them only €24 per hour, yet the State is funding Pieta House to the tune of €1,146 per hour.

The Government, as the Minister said, has already invested heavily in Pieta House, to the tune of €2.03 million per year, and Pieta House has also availed of the wage subsidy scheme. Despite this, several staff were let go and others have been offered redundancy.

Will the Minister inform the House exactly where this funding is being directed? Is any of the additional funding being used to pay for the redundancies?

Does the Minister think we are getting value for money at €1,146 per therapy session when it would cost the State €120 per hour, or €24 per hour if a self-employed therapist at Pieta House was hired? The State should provide such services and not rely on a charity to do so. Pieta House provides an essential service but it is essential only due to the lack of investment in mental health by this and previous Governments.

Harris: “I thank the Deputy and note his sincere and strong interest in the issue of mental health. I could outline, although I do not have the time now, what we are doing to beef up the public mental health services but I agree with the Deputy that Pieta House does a really good job. It is very well regarded by people throughout our country, as was seen in recent weeks in terms of how people responded to the fundraising call from Pieta House.

My understanding is that the HSE and Pieta House have formally agreed to that additional funding, as the Deputy rightly noted, of €114,608 per month, or €343,824 per quarter, and that will be provided once the current Government staffing cost schemes, which Pieta House has availed of, have ceased. It is to help keep staff.

The HSE has also committed to providing cashflow support on a monthly basis, with the position to be reviewed after each quarter. The funding is being provided to fund an additional 300 hours of high-risk clients and a quarterly review will ensure anybody who commences a programme can complete it.

As I said when we spoke last week, the cashflow support is contingent on the continuation of that engagement between the HSE and Pieta House on a more sustainable funding model for the organisation.

Work has been ongoing between the HSE and Pieta for some time on how to ensure that the funding will be sustainable into the future. That ongoing engagement is required in return for the cashflow support.”



Previously: I Pieta The Fool

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

15 thoughts on “‘Does It Cost The State €1,146 Per Therapy Session?’

    1. V'ness

      And yet they made someone redundant
      With a package
      Barely two years ago
      Including some other one off restructuring costs around a facility in the US

      I dropped the crumbs from their accounts here at the time
      hoping a Journalist
      Any Journalist would pick it up


      Neither here now there now, delighted to see someone asking for clarity about their finances, particularly their income

      Note to the perennially agitated : I’m provoking uncertainty about their finances and income, where transparency and integrity is particularly vital to all networks of service provider type organisations, World Wide.
      Not their services / outputs / operations,
      So save yerselves and yere sweaty keyboards

      BTW I’ve already seen enough in the extraction above to immediately suspend all payments to Pieta pending an internal forensic (because it’s an organisation that receipts Cash) audit

        1. fluffybiscuits

          As they are in receipt of govt funds they are subject to FOI

          @Bodger you might want to let Ken Foxe know, he has done some good work in the past

          1. V'ness

            It shouldn’t even need an FOI tbh

            Auditor and Comptroller General
            AND the Public Accounts Committee

            AND HSE Auditors
            AND the Charity Regulator (which should be transferred to the Central Bank imo btw – just had to get that in)

            AND their own External Auditor

            AND their own internal Risk and Compliance policies
            as well as their management accounts and monthly reports to the Board
            – So their Directors as well

            Are all there to act as preventative etcs and checks and balances, and to ensure stuff is as it should be ◑﹏◐

            g’luck with that mind

      1. Liam Deliverance

        Well done Deputy Ward in raising this issue in the Dail and a nod to V also. Yes people rightly have a connection to Pieta House for a myriad of reasons, what might seem like an attack on them here is also what may save them and their crucial service. You would hope Pieta House would have a response to make now.

  1. Kate

    It cost 50euro a MINUTE for a phone consultation with our hospital doctor yesterday. 5 minutes=250 euros. It is possibly a widespread practice during pandemic.

  2. Orla

    Is this accurate ?
    They really need an audit ASAP if so, I understand some might get frustrated with an audit because they have developed an emotional connection with Pieta House mainly because of the walks every year, it’s important to put popularity aside because that money could be getting used for the mental health services this country desperately needs.

    I’m not sure but have suicides gone up since Pieta house came into being ? You would expect an organization as well funded as this within a small populace would have a statistical impact albeit slight but relevant.

    The rehab lady is off into the sunshine a millionaire still taking court cases against state which is adding to her “coffers” , the delusional narcissism within charities here is rampant.

  3. Harry Robertson

    Not sure if they already do, but a lot of charities here need to come under the scope of the C&AG and put into their workload on an annual basis.

  4. Enn

    I have heard some alarming things about dealing with Pieta House. They are guided by a Catholic authority and ethos – the ‘counselling’ for a few people included suggesting they take more vitamins and no longer be gay, among other things. Apparently they will not deal with dual diagnosis either, which is hugely self-defeating since so, so, so many people in distress self-medicate with alcohol/drugs, understandably.

    I would be glad if someone looked into this because people have a strong emotional investment in it, especially the walks, since it can feel like the only thing they can do to give something back or feel useful in the aftermath of a loved one’s suicide. It’s such a worthy cause and such a blight on society but it is very necessary to ask what a Catholic agency is doing with a huge chunk of funding. I’ve been doing therapy for years privately, rate is €60, no legitimate counsellor I have ever encountered would dream of suggesting ‘vitamins’.

    Would it not be better if this kind of funding, via Pieta House perhaps, could be given as a kind of voucher for therapy to people? So they could choose their own (registered) therapist and have financial assistance and have agency in that respect. For example, there are forms of therapy for trauma and addiction that would differ to the ‘talking cure’ and suit different people. Different therapists have different specialists.

    It would only require the therapist to be registered formally with the Irish body that manages these things and therefore cleared, has done a certain amount of training, qualification recognised, etc. No input from the ethos of Pieta House in that way.

  5. Rose

    My daughter attended Pieta House and I truly believe it saved her life. There was no mention of vitamins or God at any stage of the process. It’s a lifeline for people who might not be able to afford private counselling when they need it and might not have the luxury of time to wait in the public system. Of course I still fully agree that they should be transparent about their income and how it’s spent.

  6. Ringsend Incinerator

    Pieta (no longer House) is a business, big time. Little transparency is thrown by a lap-top media on a multi-million Euro operation with US operations and a founder with presidential ambitions. I think the exception may have been Village Magazine?

    There are 43 “charities” in Ireland providing support/counselling for suicide cases – 13 of those charities solely dealing that issue alone.

    Pieta is a US Health Insurance-type ATM based on sad outcomes. The board need to go and the HSE/NOSP needs to up its game. It’s our money. I don’t want ANY of it going to Pieta right now. Period. As for his Darkness into Light BS…. who cares – Parkrun is a better option.

  7. Lilly

    The Late Late Show raised €2 million for Pieta two weeks ago. Have they done their due diligence, I wonder.

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