721. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice the way the additional funding announced in Budget 2022 to allow the Irish Prison Service to recruit more psychologists and specialist mental health nurses will be allocated; and the projected timeline for implementation. [52222/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): In order to address the urgent health care needs with the Prison system, Budget 2022 has committed to the provision of over €2 million in additional funding for these services.
This includes just over €1 million for psychologists and specialist mental health nurses in prisons who can work with prisoners to address mental health issues for all categories of offender.
Decisions regarding placement of these additional psychologists are currently being considered and will be based on the mental health needs and overall psychologist-to-prisoner ratio across the estate. To this end, it is intended to recruit additional psychologists throughout 2022.
The Irish Prison Service continues to work to enhance and improve its level of medical service delivery to prisoners. The Service has embarked on a comprehensive Health Needs Assessment (HNA) to examine the broad range of health care services that are provided across the entire prison estate. This includes the provision of mental health services.
The possible recruitment of specialist mental health nurses will be considered in the context of the outcome of the HNA when finalised.
It is also intended to increase the mental health qualifications and skills within the Irish Prison Service nursing workforce through recruitment, training and development. This process will commence during 2022.