Psychiatric beds cuts a huge blow to County Wexford

By David tucker

RIGHT: TD Brendan Howlin.
RIGHT: TD Brendan Howlin.

ALREADY stretched psychiatric services in County Wexford will be under extreme pressure following the decision by the Mental Health Commission to cut the number of acute psychiatric beds at Waterford Regional Hospital from 14 to only six beds.

According to a document seen by this newspaper, the commission considered refusing to register the centre because the acute unit is unsafe for 14 residents.

'In view of the overcrowding, lack of sittim room, activity room, quiet area, dining area and the lack of therapeutic services and programmes and appropriate recreational activities, it is the inspector's opinion that the acute unit is unsafe for 14 residents,' it says.

Wexford Deputy Brendan Howlin says the decision is unacceptable and will have an enormous impact on patients in a region starved of pyschiatric services.

In 2010, following a closure order from the Mental Health Commission, St Senan's Psychiatric Unit ceased operation. The service was transferred to the 14-bed Acute Unit in Waterford University Hospital and a sub-acute Unit there of 30 beds.

'Considerable concern has been voiced that the 14 bed Acute Unit which services all of County Waterford and much of County Wexford is wholly inadequate,' said Deputy Howlin.

'After initially proposing to refuse to register the Waterford Unit as an approved centre, in effect shutting it down, the Mental Health Commission has now decided to reduce the maximum number of acute patients from 14 to six,' said Deputy Howlin.

'The already inadequate acute facilities where, according to the Mental Health Commission, "serious concerns remain as to the safety, health and wellbeing of residents", are now to be further drastically reduced,' he said. The Labour leader said he believes the HSE has until Friday (February 24) to make further submissions to the Mental Health Commission. 'As of now the reduction in capacity with consequent implications for all psychiatric service users in Counties Waterford and Wexford will become operable on Wednesday, March 1. This situation is entirely unacceptable to the people of both counties who demand immediate provision of appropriate psychiatric services for this region.'

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