Sunday 18 August 2019

HSE'S 'Booking Necessary' rule could lead to further tragedies, claims Kelly

THE HSE has this week refused to confirm whether or not it would refuse to treat a person if they presented at one of its free psychological consultation clinics without having booked an appointment.

Recent changes to the changes to the free service, which caters for parents who are concerned about their children's psychological well-being, mean that it is no longer run on a drop-in basis. Clients must now phone ahead and book and be allocated an appointment before attending the clinic.

Sinn Féin councillor Anthony Kelly spoke out against the changes this week, saying that the service is being 'downgraded' due to staffing shortages and budget cuts.

Cllr Kelly claimed that the changes in what is now known as the Psychology Parent Consultation Service 'could lead to another tragedy on the scale of Kaat's Strand or Monageer', particularly as a new sign erected at the clinic states 'Booking Necessary', which he fears may dissuade people from turning up in emergency situations without an appointment.

A spokesperson for the HSE, when asked if they would refuse to see somebody if they presented at the clinic without making an appointment, did not fully clarify the position of the HSE. He said, 'We would be encouraging people to phone ahead.'

He continued, 'It's the best use of everyone's time time if they make an appointment and people are quite happy with the process.'

When asked directly if an emergency case would be turned away if they presented themselves unnanounced, the response was: ' that doesn't tend to happen'.

Furthermore, a statement released by the HSE says research has 'established that booking ahead was an option that worked for everyone'. It outlined too how the service is being offered fortnightly (on alternate Wednesdays) in Wexford and New Ross, and once a month in Gorey and Enniscorthy.

Contrary to the HSE claims, it is Cllr Kelly's contention that this 'much reduced' service has been changed not to better suit the needs of the public but 'as a direct result of cuts to the mental health budget'.

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