Ballinasloe locals to protest at bed closures

Members of the local community in Ballinasloe are to stage marches both in Ballinasloe and at Leinster House to protest at the closure of a psychiatric unit in St Brigid’s Hospital.

Over 500 health workers, local representatives, service users, and concerned locals attended a public meeting on Monday evening to discuss the proposed closure of the 22-bed acute mental health unit.

Deputy Denis Naughten confirmed that a meeting has been arranged between public representatives, staff, and manager of the Roscommon/Galway Psychiatric Services Catherine Cunningham. A meeting is also to take place with Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch on September 18.

The HSE announced its decision to close the unit on July 25, as part of a reconfiguration of the Galway Roscommon Mental Health Services.

Deputy Naughten described the proposed closure as “simply crazy”.

“Over the last number of years people availing of acute psychiatric services would have gone to Roscommon town. South Roscommon is now under the jurisdiction of Ballinasloe, but because they are closing this ward people will now have to go to Galway,” he said.

In a statement the HSE said that contrary to some reports, there is no “brand new un-opened unit” in Ballinasloe.

“In the last two years, approximately €3m has been invested in capital projects for mental health services in Ballinasloe.

“The building where the acute beds are currently located will continue to be used by psychiatry of later life patients and the remainder of the accommodation will be used by the Community Mental Health Teams and as a central base for administration. There is no question of the building not being utilised to its fullest extent.”

There are currently 79 acute beds across three sites in Galway Roscommon Mental Health Services, all of which were occupied three weeks ago, according to Deputy Naughten.

However the Vision for Change report on mental health services recommends a total of 50 across the two counties. The proposed reconfiguration will maintain 35 acute inpatient beds in Galway City and 22 acute inpatient beds in Roscommon, giving a total of 57 acute beds.

The HSE says there will be no impact for current inpatients in Ballinasloe as the bed reduction will take place on a phased basis.

“The impact for future users will be offset by the fact that there will be a corresponding development of specialist community mental health services where the philosophy of care is focused on prevention and early detection which will prevent and reduce admissions,” said a HSE spokesperson. Members of the local community in Ballinasloe are to stage marches both in Ballinasloe and at Leinster House to protest at the closure of a psychiatric unit in St Brigid’s Hospital.

Over 500 health workers, local representatives, service users, and concerned locals attended a public meeting on Monday evening to discuss the proposed closure of the 22-bed acute mental health unit.

Deputy Denis Naughten confirmed that a meeting has been arranged between public representatives, staff, and manager of the Roscommon/Galway Psychiatric Services Catherine Cunningham. A meeting is also to take place with Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch on September 18.

The HSE announced its decision to close the unit on July 25, as part of a reconfiguration of the Galway Roscommon Mental Health Services.

Deputy Naughten described the proposed closure as “simply crazy”.

“Over the last number of years people availing of acute psychiatric services would have gone to Roscommon town. South Roscommon is now under the jurisdiction of Ballinasloe, but because they are closing this ward people will now have to go to Galway,” he said.

In a statement the HSE said that contrary to some reports, there is no “brand new un-opened unit” in Ballinasloe.

“In the last two years, approximately €3m has been invested in capital projects for mental health services in Ballinasloe.

“The building where the acute beds are currently located will continue to be used by psychiatry of later life patients and the remainder of the accommodation will be used by the Community Mental Health Teams and as a central base for administration. There is no question of the building not being utilised to its fullest extent.”

There are currently 79 acute beds across three sites in Galway Roscommon Mental Health Services, all of which were occupied three weeks ago, according to Deputy Naughten.

However the Vision for Change report on mental health services recommends a total of 50 across the two counties. The proposed reconfiguration will maintain 35 acute inpatient beds in Galway City and 22 acute inpatient beds in Roscommon, giving a total of 57 acute beds.

The HSE says there will be no impact for current inpatients in Ballinasloe as the bed reduction will take place on a phased basis.

“The impact for future users will be offset by the fact that there will be a corresponding development of specialist community mental health services where the philosophy of care is focused on prevention and early detection which will prevent and reduce admissions,” said a HSE spokesperson.

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