Local mental Health facility to lose half of its beds
By Maurice Garvey
VULNERABLE young people are at risk due to the impending closure of a mental health facility in Cherry Orchard Hospital – which is set to lose half its beds.
Up to 11 of the 22 beds at the Linn Dara Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service facility will be cut on Friday (May 26) due to personnel shortages.
Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald blasted the reduction as a “symptom of a broader crisis in the health service.”
She is among those calling for an intervention to prevent the closure of the facility, which caters for young people under the age of 18 struggling with mental health issues.
Deputy McDonald said the “crisis of recruitment and retention of nurses” is down to “poor planning, and failures to address the issue of pay and conditions for nurses.”
“In order to deal with their abject failure to recruit and retain staff for the unit, the HSE has decided to compromise the care and safety of those who may need the facility by closing fifty per cent of the unit’s inpatient capacity.”
Deputy McDonald cited the 2006 Vision for Change mental health strategy, which outlined Ireland would need 100 inpatient mental health beds to meet demand for young people.
“The closure of these 11 beds now brings the national number down to a derisory 52,” she said.
Local Fianna Fáil Councillor Daithí de Róiste said the reduction is “devastating news for young people of West Dublin” and leaves them “abandoned and left to fend for themselves.”
Cllr de Róiste said: “This demonstrates the attitude from those in power towards young people suffering with severe mental health issues. Maybe if the Minister for mental health wasn’t so busy making videos for Leo Varadkar, she would recognise this crisis and take action.”
Deputy McDonald and Cllr de Róiste are calling on Minister of State for Mental Health, Helen McEntee, and Health Minister Simon Harris to intervene.
A spokesperson for the HSE said: “Due to difficulties in recruiting qualified nursing staff, the HSE has made the decision to temporarily reduce the inpatient capacity at Linn Dara from 22 beds to 11 beds for the duration of the summer. This is a temporary reduction for operational reasons.”
The HSE said Linn Dara’s clinical team will work to support families and “endeavour to increase the capacity” of the centre during the summer.
The spokesperson also said they will continue to examine pathways of recruiting staff to enable Linn Dara to be restored to full capacity in September 2017.