Cllr Rachel Doherty has raised grave concerns about the potential further deterioration of mental health services in Co Roscommon, after the Government announced a €15 million cut in the mental health budget in 2014.
The Fianna Fáil Councillor questioned the Manager Roscommon Galway PCCC (Primary, Community and Continuing Care) at a meeting of Roscommon County Council on Monday, 21 October. Cllr Doherty said mental health services in Roscommon are already in crisis and the budget cuts announced by Fine Gael and Labour for next year will make a bad situation worse.
Cllr Doherty explained, “Mental health services in Roscommon and Galway are already under review with a view to closing down a number of acute beds in this region. This includes the planned closure of the 22 bed unit at St Brigid’s in Ballinasloe. The HSE claims it wants to move to a more community based or outpatient service for people with mental health difficulties.
“My concern is, how does the dramatic cut in mental health funding in Budget 2014 affect the investment required for an adequately resourced and properly staffed community based mental service in Co Roscommon? There are currently three acute units in the Galway-Roscommon area, totalling 75 beds for patients with serious mental health problems. At least some of these beds will be shut down as a result of the current ‘review’ – but what will be there to replace them?
“What the people of Roscommon need is a guarantee that the 22 acute beds in Co Roscommon will be retained. We also need a guarantee that the community based mental health service that has been promised will be ready to go, fully funded and fully staffed, to replace any cuts to acute services in the Galway-Roscommon region.
“The €15 million cut in the national mental health budget next year must not result in any reduction of an already underfunded, understaffed and inadequate mental health service in Co Roscommon. There is a real anxiety among staff in the sector here, and indeed patients and their families, about the future of mental health services in this county. They need some certainty from the government about what exactly is going on. Local government representatives have provided very little reassurance. I am calling on the Health Minister James Reilly and the Minister of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch to give a clear commitment to providing the increased funding required for mental health services in Galway-Roscommon.”