Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health, Colm Keaveney TD, says the provision of mental health services in the country is broken and in need of a serious overhaul.
Deputy Keaveney was speaking after it was revealed that since January 2012, there have been 13 suicides and 4 very serious incidents at psychiatric hospitals in the Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary area, despite Minister Kathleen Lynch claiming it is an award winning service.
“The revelations on the RTE’s ‘This Week’ programme are harrowing and should serve as a wake-up call for Minister Kathleen Lynch and her Department.
“There have been 13 suicides and 4 very serious incidents of service users in the Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary area since January 2012, some having being prematurely discharged from state mental health services.
“The fact that nine prominent consultant psychiatrists in that area have written to Minister Kathleen Lynch saying they have no faith in the Clinical Management System is extremely worrying. If the clinical leaders of the system have no faith in it, then what hope is there for the service users?
“Minister Lynch has consistently ignored the warnings given by frontline staff, grave concerns have previously been raised about North Dublin and West Galway psychiatric services.
“The Minister claims that the service in Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary is the best resourced in the country, so why are the suicide and self-harm numbers so high?
“I have continuously asked Minister Lynch to meet with frontline staff and listen to their concerns, which she refuses to do. The current system is not working and it must be changed to meet the needs of service users, the only way this can be done is speaking with nurses, doctors and patients; not so-called experts who have no appreciation for the situation within these institutions and in the homes of service users.
“Instead the Minister is happy to outsource decision making and hide behind two reports from the Mental Health Commission she is waiting on.
“For so long, the state presided over the mistreatment and abuse of our most vulnerable citizens. Instead of being protected, they were abandoned and in many instances not afforded basic human rights.“I am calling for the immediate publication of these reports; an audit of the implementation of A Vision for Change and a report from each separate HSE area into the number of suicides, attempted suicides or serious incidents.
“I intend raising this matter directly with the Minister in the Dáil this week and I will pursue her to pay heed to the warnings she has been receiving.”