The HSE has begun the process of closing 22 acute psychiatric beds at St Brigid’s Hospital, Ballinasloe.
The phased process began with the transfer of five inpatient beds to Galway University Hospital (GUH ) this week. The second phase will involve the transfer of a further five beds to GUH, but no date has yet been set for this phase.
When the transfer is complete, acute services for the region will be provided at GUH and Roscommon County Hospital.
The mental health campus in Ballinasloe will continue to deliver a 16-bed psychiatry of later life unit.
A brand new 50-bed acute unit for GUH has full planning permission and funding to progress. It is anticipated that the first sod will be turned in February and it will be completed in 2015 with a capacity of 50 acute inpatient beds.
The HSE says the region’s acute psychiatric services will be enhanced with the addition of nurses in Portiuncula, GUH, and Roscommon to deal with deliberate self-harm. A new service is also commencing with the introduction of a suicide crisis assessment nurse who will assess patients in GP surgeries.
Opponents of the closure have criticised a points system which favoured the facility in Roscommon ahead of St Brigid’s in Ballinasloe. Several public demonstrations have been held in recent months to protest against the decision.