A mental health expert has said there "is a very significant problem" in recruiting staff in the sector.

Professor Matthew Sadlier, a consultant psychiatrist and former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, said "we have a recruitment and retention issue for senior medical staff in all aspects of the health service, but in psychiatry it is worse than any other area."

He said "it is leading to a significant deficit of senior leadership in mental health teams around the country."

Speaking on Drivetime on RTÉ Radio 1, Prof Sadlier said there are a number of reasons, including the 30% pay cut for consultants in 2012.

He said it is also more difficult to recruit people into community based posts than hospital based positions.

Prof Sadlier added "it is more difficult to recruit people in this country than others countries because of issues around flexible working" and the expectation of case loads and responsibilities.

"There are a number of systemic problems that would have to be fixed to improve our recruitment ability and it isn't just based on pay."

He said there needs to be a higher level of funding and resourcing and he said there is also a feeling of professional isolation in a community position.