Tag Archives: Stephen Donnelly

Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly

This morning.

An open letter to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly from mental health service user Lisa Naylor.

Minister Donnelly,

‘I am a 35 year old mother of one living in Dublin. I won’t bore you with a lengthy backstory, but I have struggled with my mental health for the majority of my life. Depression, self-harm and a personality disorder are just a few of my difficulties. As a result, I have been accessing public and private psychiatric services for 17 years. I have been linked in with my current local mental health clinic in Coolock since 2014.

At the beginning of this year I suffered a pregnancy loss which negatively impacted my mental state. Shortly after this, Covid-19 hit and we went into lockdown and I deteriorated further, relapsing into old, maladaptive coping strategies.

Fortunately, the registrar assigned to me was incredible and offered plenty of support and guidance. She scheduled phone appointments with me every 2-4 weeks (if you aren’t aware, this is considered intensive support by the HSE).

I was still struggling to stay afloat, like many people during this pandemic, but at least I had that lifeline – the appointments with my doctor. Being honest and open with someone over the phone was difficult, but I knew my doctor and trusted her so it made the Covid restricted appointments easier. My depression was worsening but I was coping; I was surviving, with help.

When the phone rang on the 3rd of August I answered immediately. I was in desperate need of that supportive and rational voice on the other end of the phone. However the voice on the other end was unfamiliar.

The registrars had rotated in between my appointments and now a complete stranger was asking me how I was feeling. I don’t think I can accurately describe how unsettling and jarring this was, being asked to show my emotional scars and vulnerability to a stranger. A stranger who hadn’t read my file. The appointment ended with them telling me to continue doing what the previous doctor had advised. It was a waste of time.

My next appointment was scheduled for 3 months’ time. The intensive support had been withdrawn.

Life carried on, Covid continued, my depression and anxiety increased. I had another pregnancy loss. Then lockdown 2 was announced and the months of loneliness, despair and fear overtook me. I sobbed until there were no more tears, until I nearly threw up. Sharp objects started to look so appealing; I drank and ate more trying to quell the growing despair.

My appointment was scheduled for the 3rd of November and I knew I needed to speak up; to give my new doctor a chance to help me. I had to try.

I was sitting in the kitchen, my toddler running riot behind me, when the phone rang. I took a deep breath and readied myself to be honest and forthright. I told them I was struggling, that I was anxious, that I had had a miscarriage; that I was struggling. When asked about a scale of 1-10, 1 being the worst, I explained I was a 3 every day. This is a snapshot of the response I received:

“How is your child?”

“I hope you haven’t been binge-eating”

“Have you ever self-harmed?”

“Do you get irritable? Make sure you don’t let that turn to anger as it wouldn’t be nice for your husband.”

“Just wrap your child up warmer and bring him for a walk” (He’s 2 and it’s November)

“I was going to discharge you today, but given what you’ve said I will give you one more appointment in 3 months”

Minister, can you please explain to me how, in the space of a few months and in the midst of a pandemic, I went from intensive support to being ready for discharge? How a person who has never met me can decide that I no longer need help? A person who didn’t even know that I self-harm, who was more concerned with my son and husband than me. This is what happens when you underfund a vital service: Doctors who are poorly trained and/or have no incentive to do good work.

At this point in my life I am a veteran of the HSE’s mental health services so I was able to temper my reaction to being so dismissed. If that had happened 5 years ago, my response to being so horribly disregarded would been catastrophic.

I now apparently have one remaining appointment in the clinic in Coolock. I am severely depressed and fighting not to lapse back into self-harm and my eating disorder. I feel helpless and rejected.

How many other patients are experiencing similar feelings, with doctors being rotated when appointments are phone only? How can you expect people who are mentally ill to trust in a stranger when they can’t even trust themselves?

The mental health service was in dire straits before Covid-19 and we as a country were losing too many people to suicide as a result. If the current system continues, if you keep expecting those that are suffering (the ones lucky enough to be given access to psychiatric services) to ask a stranger for help through a phone, the number of suicides will rise exponentially.

You need to do better, for those that cannot do better on their own.’


Lisa Naylor



Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly

This morning.

Via RTÉ:

Stephen Donnelly said this [Level 5] is a “pre-emptive strike” and while the hospital services are OK, if we do not move now these services will suffer.

The exit from Level 5 in December could be “region by region” depending on a range of factors, he said.


The Minister for Health said it was incorrect to say that contact tracing had fallen down, adding that in the last six weeks contact tracing teams have made 400% more calls than previously.

He said that for a short period last weekend there was a one-off situation where demand outstripped supply and a one-off operational decision was made to reset the system.


Moving to Level 5 a ‘pre-emptive strike’ – Donnelly (RTÉ)


Yesterday: RSVP

From top: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly leaving government buildings on Sunday evening; Taoiseach Micheál addressing the nation on Level 5 restrictions last night

This morning

A proposal by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly that would allow for fixed charge notices or fines for breaches of rona regulations will be brought to cabinet today.

Via RTE:

This would be underpinned by changes to legislation dating back to 1947.

It is likely penalties could be introduced for breaches of the regulation that states people must exercise within 5km of their home.

Official documents last night said that there will be a penalty for movement outside the 5km limit, unless it is for essential work, medical appointments or providing care to children or the elderly.

1947, anyone?

Fines for breaching Covid-19 rules on Cabinet agenda (RTÉ)

Last night: Five Guys


This afternoon

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (above centre) met with the Dublin Covid-19 homeless response team (comprising the HSE, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and voluntary services) at a HSE-run ‘self-isolation facility’ for people who are homeless in Dublin city.

Minister Donnelly announced the provision of an ‘additional €5.1 million for homeless health supports’ across the country..

He said:

“People who are homeless are at higher risk of COVID-19 and are more likely to require emergency healthcare services during the winter. To support those who are homeless in Dublin, the government is providing an additional €2.4 million for health services as part of the HSE winter plan. A further €2.7 million will be provided in other regions.”

Minister for Health welcomes additional funding of €5.1 million in homeless supports (Gov.ie)

Earlier: We Knew This Day Would Come

Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

This afternoon.

Department of Health, Dublin 2.

Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly today briefing media on the provisions of Budget 2021 pertaining to his department.

Responding to the Irish Mirror’s question about whether border counties could move to level four after this evening’s Cabinet meeting – Stephen Donnelly said the following;

“I don’t want to preempt anything regarding levels.”

“I am in favour of keeping schools open.”

“Information I’m being given are schools are safe.”

“Moves to any level are hugely costly.”

LIVE Covid-19 Ireland today as Minister Stephen Donnelly updates on latest situation (Irish Mirror)

Earlier: Dead Loss


Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly

Last night.

Patient advocate and father-of- three John Wall, aged 49, from Quin, Co Clare, who, following a diagnosis of terminal prostate cancer, had his Emergency Medical Card abruptly revoked and then restored last year by then Minister for Health Simon Harris.

John had got assurances that a commitment to review the Terminal Illness Card with specific reference to the current necessity to be have a prognosis of 12 months or less left to live, would be addressed.

However, all reference to the card was omitted from Budget 2021 material supplied yesterday.


Previously: John Wall on Broadsheet

From top: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly; Chief Medical officer Dr Tony Holohan

This morning

Claims that Dr Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer said he spoke to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly both before and after NPHET met on Sunday, need to be addressed, say opposition TDs.

Dr Holohan said Minister Donnelly had been “clear about the level of concern that I would have, and had”.

Tanaiste leo Varadkar among others expressed surprise when NPHET’s Level 5 recommendation was leaked.


Via Newstalk:

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson claimed that the Health Minister “allowed the impression to be formed that NPHET went on a solo run”.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said: “I am calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, to make a full statement of what he was told on Sunday morning and evening and what he did with that information.

“The country was distracted by an unseemly row between the Government and NPHET at precisely the moment when all attention should.”

Labour leader Alan Kelly (above) reiterated the calls for a Dáil statement from the minister, saying Minister Donnelly “must clear up this latest controversy”.

Donnelly Urged To Give ‘Full Explanation’ (Newstalk)

Last night: Disposable Heroes


Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly

This afternoon.

Via RTÉ:

NPHET has recommended to Government that a maximum of six people from a single household should be allowed visit another home nationwide.

This rule currently applies in Dublin and Donegal, which are on Level 3 restrictions, but up until now six people from three households could visit another home in other counties, which are on Level 2…..


Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly earlier said that members of NPHET look at a “lot more than cases” when they are deciding about imposing restrictions.

He was responding to quotes from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in The Currency, who had questioned if Ireland is using the right criteria to make far-reaching decisions around restrictions and economic lockdowns.

NPHET recommends new restrictions on household visits (RTÉ)

Earlier: Why Are We Using Case Numbers To Make Decisions On Restrictions?


Ah here.

This morning.


Orla writes:

Too busy to appear before the Oireachtas Special Covid-19 Committe. Not too busy to peddle more bouncy castle bullpoo on Newstalk

Previously: What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School


From top: Today’s Irish Daily Mail; Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly

This morning.

Further pressure heaped on Fianna Fáil Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly’s media performances and general handling of the rona from within his own party.

Somewhere in that building (above) are two women, possibly purple clad, having the absolute giggles.