Fianna Fáil has condemned the Government for ignoring warnings about an escalating crisis in north Dublin’s psychiatric services.
The party’s Spokesperson on Disability, Mental Health & Special Needs, Colm Keaveney TD, has demanded an urgent statement from the Minister for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch and Health Minister James Reilly following alarming reports that very sick patients with serious psychiatric difficulties have been forced to wait up to 8 days at Beaumont Hospital’s emergency department before being moved to a psychiatric bed.
Deputy Keaveney commented, “I find it extremely disturbing that this dangerous and totally unacceptable situation was brought to Minister Lynch’s attention last year and she has still done nothing about it.
“The Minister has been sitting on a letter from psychiatrists warning that mental services in north Dublin are ‘in crisis mode’. She was warned months ago that patients with psychiatric difficulties are being discharged before they should be, forced to wait in totally inappropriate surroundings without the care that they need, or forced to travel outside of Dublin for treatment because the beds simply are not available in the capital. How did Minister Lynch think this letter was not worth replying to? How could she think this was not worth following up in any way?
“In direct contradiction to the Vision for Change, the Government has failed to take any steps to maintain a reasonable psychiatric service in north Dublin following the closure of the acute mental health unit at St Ita’s in Portrane. We now have very sick people who need specialised care in Dublin with absolutely nowhere to go. By failing to act, the Government is playing roulette with these people’s lives.
“Unfortunately this isn’t just happening in north Dublin. Acute mental health services in other parts of the country have also been completely undermined by the closure of acute units that offered appropriate specialised care, and the failure to put any other appropriate service in place. It’s happening in Co Galway and it’s happening in Cork. The Government’s current plan for psychiatric beds is deeply flawed.
“I will be seeking to raise this issue in the Dáil at the earliest possible opportunity this week. Minister Lynch has a number of questions to answer here: Why didn’t she reply to this letter? Did she pass it on to the Health Minister James Reilly? What actions were taken within the Department to address the concerns that were raised by the Dublin psychiatrists? What provisions are being made to increase the psychiatric bed capacity in north Dublin?”