Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne has called on the Government to take urgent action to prevent massive cutbacks being imposed on mental health services in the south – east.

Deputy Browne made the comments after receiving new information from the Mental Health Commission which shows that it has ordered the closure of up to 8 of 14 acute mental health beds at University Hospital Waterford.

“Mental health services in the south – east are already greatly overstretched. There are many people with mental health issues who simply cannot access adequate treatment as there are not enough acute beds at University Hospital Waterford,” explained Deputy Browne.

“There are currently 14 acute mental health beds covering the Waterford – Wexford area. However, the Mental Health Commission has now ordered that up to 8 of these beds are to close with immediate effect. The Commission has taken this view because it is concerned that the current unit at University Hospital Waterford is overstretched and under-resourced. Fine Gael’s failure to invest in mental health services in recent years is now causing serious issues in the day to day operation of such services.

“It’s simply unthinkable that there may only be six acute mental health beds to cover a population of approximately 300,000 people in the entire south – east. Minister for Mental Health Helen McEntee needs to intervene to make funding available to help boost the number of acute beds for the Waterford – Wexford area. The Mental Health Commission had made it clear that additional resources are required.

“The Mental Health Commission has expressed concern for the health, safety and wellbeing of mental health patients attending University Hospital Waterford. Staff at the hospital are doing their best with limited resources, but there is only so much they can do. The Government needs to release additional resources to help overcome this crisis.

“This was a crisis waiting to happen and is a direct result of the failure to properly fund and support mental health services. I will be raising this matter as an urgent issue in the Oireachtas this week with the view to securing additional resources for mental health services,” concluded Deputy Browne.