Staff boost to psychiatry in Westmeath announced

Psychiatric services in Westmeath are to benefit from the addition of eight senior staff this year, it was revealed this week.

Two psychologists, three social workers, one clinical nurse specialist, and one consultant are to be added to the mental health services in the region, the manager with responsibilities for this department, Carol Cuffe, confirmed at the most recent meeting of the Dublin Mid-Leinster regional health forum held in Naas recently.

Cllr Mick Dollard enquired as to what provisions might be made to the Longford-Westmeath region in light of the Government’s policy document Vision for Change which allocated an additional €35m nationwide to boost these vital services in 2013.

Ms Cuffe explained that already there are four consultant-led teams in adult psychiatry, one in later life psychiatry, and one in community, alcohol, and drugs in the region, and these will be boosted by the eight 2014 appointments.

The breakdown will see two psychologists and two social workers added to adult mental health services, with an additional clinical nurse specialist, social worker, and consultant allocated to child and adolescent services in the region.

However Ms Cuffe did not say where the new staff would be based, nor when they would be taken up, just that “the appointments are being progressed”.

However, she did confirm that the new psychiatric unit attached to the St Loman’s campus in Mullingar became operational on December 4, although “no date as yet has been set for the official opening of this unit”.

At the same meeting it was also revealed that just under 10 per cent of the funds required to run the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar are received from private health insurance companies.

The hospital received €6.24m from insurance companies in 2012, out of an operating budget of €65.6m, and this is similar to the monies received by its sister unit in Tullamore which received €8.3m towards its annual running costs of €84.6m.

This was revealed by the assistant director of the three Midland hospitals, James Conway.

It also came to light that the hospital received just over one third of a million euro (€333,394 ) in 2012 from its car parking receipts, a figure that equates to one quarter of the amount (€1,237,257 ) taken by the council for the town of Mullingar.

The Executive did not, however, reveal the throughput of vehicles that provided these figures.

Also revealed at this meeting was that 12 nursing homes in Westmeath are covered by the HSE’s home support scheme.

These are: Stella Maris, Sonas, Retreat, Mont Vista in Athlone; St Clairs, and Newbrook 1 and 2 in Mullingar; St Camillus and Roselodge in Killucan; as well as one each in Tyrrellspass, Castlepollard, Moate, and Multyfarnham.

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