Cutbacks to mental health condemned
Wexford councillors have condemned the lack of round-the-clock acute mental health services in the county.
'There is no place for someone to access 24-hour acute services in Wexford,' Sinn Fein councillor Anthony Kelly told a Borough Council meeting.
Cllr. Kelly said a promise was given that when St. Senan's closed, alternative services would be provided but this has not happened.
In a separate motion, Independent councillor David Hynes called on the Government to reverse a recent 15% cut in the mental health service budget.
Cllr. Hynes described mental health as the 'poor relation' of the health service.
'As a society we pay a high price for this failure to adequately resource mental health', he said, citing suicide statistics for Wexford and Ireland.
'The rate of suicide in County Wexford is one of the highest in Ireland and double the national average,' he said.
Cllr. Kelly said a new mental health unit in Farnogue, Wexford does not provide an acute service.
'And if you go to Summerhill which is supposed to be a walk-in centre, you will be told to get a letter of referral from a G.P.'
'If you are threatening to self harm, you will be referred to the Accident and Emergency department of Wexford General Hospital where you will be dealt with by a liaison nurse who will speak to a psychiatrist.'
'You may be referred to Waterford A&E where you will spend two to three hours in a queue.'
'The cutbacks to mental health are a disgrace,' said Cllr. Kelly.
Fellow councillors supported the call for acute services in Wexford.
Cllr. Padge Reck, Independent said Wexford deserves facilities more than Waterford as it has a bigger population.
'Who is making the decisions,' he wanted to know.
Fianna Fail councillor Fergie Kehoe said the system was turning a blind eye to the needs of the most vulnerable people in society.
Cllr. Paddy Nolan (Fianna Fail) said a commitment was given that when St. Senan's closed, there would be replacement services.
'Where are they? If you have someone with a mental health problem, do you wait for someone to give you a lift to Waterford,' he asked.