The Chairman of the Mental Health Commission has said the Government needs to up its game in terms of recruiting and retaining staff providing services around the country.

Inspection reports carried out by the MHC have consistently flagged staffing issues and the impact they have on the provision of care.

John Saunders said that there was a legal obligation on the Government to have proper mental health services in place, to cater for the needs of the most vulnerable people in society.

He was speaking in Galway at the latest in a series of meetings to outline the work carried out by the Commission.

Mr Saunders said there were recruitment issues in almost every centre around the country.

He said more needed to be done to ensure that nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers were available.

While the Vision for Change policy outlined the need to increase the number of people in training 12 years ago, Mr Saunders said this had not happened.

He emphasised the need for high competence and high levels of training, saying not all staff employed had the right kind of training for the situations they had to deal with.

When people experienced mental health issues, there was an onus on society to ensure that there was 24/7 access to the services they required.

Mr Saunders said this process could be assisted by the availability of proper community care, to make sure people could get supports in the areas where they live and work.

Additional crisis intervention should then be available if and when it is needed.

The Commission heard concerns expressed about the standard in acute services in the west, with issues identified around accommodation, security and care practices.

CEO John Farrelly said the governance and management of the 64 centres overseen by the Commission was important.

He said acute and community mental health care impacted on a lot of people and that service providers would be held accountable for any failings.