St Loman’s psychiatric hospital in Mullingar has been earmarked for closure as part of a €50 million HSE investment into mental health facilities, while a new community nursing unit has also been promised for the town.
St Loman’s, which has been at the centre of public debate since a report by the Mental Health Inspectorate described conditions there as “unfit for human habitation”, was named this week on a list of 15 psychiatric hospitals which are to close as part of the implementation of the Government’s ‘Vision for Change’ report.
The document describes the closure of all outdated mental health facilities and the reinvestment of the proceeds to create a “modern environment which supports recovery”. Ensuring that acute admissions to the old ‘Victorian-type’ institutions cease as early as possible is central to the development plan.
Speaking about the report earlier this week, Minister for State with responsibility for Equality, Disability and Mental Health, John Maloney, said priorities for 2010 would include “a new community nursing unit in Mullingar and the closure of St Loman’s to mental health patients”.
The HSE’s €50 million capital programme for mental health in 2010 includes the development of two community nursing units, two child and adolescent units, two acute admissions units, and a number of other key projects.
“The opening of the acute admissions unit in Connolly Memorial Hospital and new acute units at Beaumont Hospital and in Letterkenny, as well as new community nursing units in Clonmel and Mullingar, will bring us significantly closer to ending the reliance on old and inappropriate accommodation,” according to the HSE.
Outlining plans for mental health in 2010, HSE assistant national director of Mental Health Services, Martin Rogan, said new facilities and accommodation would benefit both service users and staff.
“Quality mental health care depends on the skilled interventions of committed professionals working with service users as they rebuild their personal confidence and reconnect with their lives. We have committed and dedicated staff in mental health services across the country working under significant resource pressures. New facilities and accommodation as outlined today will be welcomed by services users and staff alike,” said Mr Rogan.
“By bringing together the ‘Vision for Change’ policy, the energy of the service user movement, and the renewed commitment of skilled mental health professionals, we are now within reach of providing a recovery-based approach to mental health care throughout Ireland.”
Published in 2006, ‘Vision for Change’ sets out a 10-year programme of investment and modernisation in mental health services. It describes a mental health service which is fully integrated into its host community and offers services at the earliest opportunity, within primary care, by comprehensive community-based teams, and in modern purpose-built inpatient facilities.