HSE calls on psychiatric nurses to ‘engage cooperatively’ in vision for change

Galway Roscommon Mental Health Services say at no stage has UHG been required to cater for an occupancy of more than the allocated bed capacity of 45.

In response to last week’s Galway Advertiser story, the HSE and Galway Roscommon Mental Health Services “utterly refute” that there had not been a rise in the number of staff working in the unit and that “staff cannot provide proper care for patients”.

“Staffing levels in acute units are not static and will increase and decrease on a weekly basis based on the numbers of patients, the nature of their illness and whether they require one to one nursing support,” the HSE spokesperson states. “ An additional 12 nursing staff have been redeployed from the former acute unit in Ballinasloe to the Acute Unit in Galway. A further eight new nursing posts have been approved and are in the final stages of recruitment.”

Permission has been in place for some months for the acute unit in GUH to increase staff numbers through overtime for existing staff and the employment of agency nursing when required, it states.

The HSE says it has held interviews for the eight agency staff to be replaced by temporary full time staff while eight permanent new nursing posts are being recruited.

“These 20 additional nursing staff are on top of recent nursing appointments to UHG including a self harm nurse, a suicide crisis assessment nurse and a liaison nurse. We are also in the process of recruiting a second suicide crisis assessment nurse.”

General adult community teams already exist in all six Galway Roscommon Mental Health areas. Intensive community treatment, providing a clinically appropriate alternative to hospital admission is being implemented, the spokespersn says. “ This service is up and running on a seven day basis in sector 5 [serving the Ballinasloe area]. It is currently progressing in the other sectors through the industrial relations framework with anticipated operation by end of September which will further reduce the numbers of patients who require inpatient admission and is in line with Vision for Change.”

The HSE acknowledges changes necessary for the full implementation of Vision for Change may have implications for some nursing staff, but it is calling on the PNA to engage cooperatively in the further developments, including the appropriate introduction of skill mix and the full roll out of home based treatment teams.

The spokesperson says the acute unit in UHG has increased its capacity to 45 beds since February and with 22 beds in Roscommon County Hospital, there is a total of 67 acute inpatient beds.

“Galway Roscommon Mental Health Service has sufficient capacity to provide acute inpatient services to any patient who is clinically assessed by a psychiatrist as requiring admission to an inpatient bed. At no stage has the unit in UHG been required to cater for an occupancy of more than the allocated bed capacity of 45.

“This reconfiguration is a major investment in mental health services in Galway and Roscommon; with an additional 44 permanent staff posts at a cost of €2.6m; the reconfiguration is purely based on improving outcomes for patients and rehabilitation.

“Misinformation and unsubstantiated allegations create fear for patients, potential patients, their families and leads to increased pressure for staff who are supporting and caring for their patients in a dignified and professional manner at all times.”

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