Community seeks to save Ballinasloe mental health unit
HSE decides to close 22-bed unit at St Brigid’s Hospital
A Co Galway community is campaigning for a reversal of a decision by the HSE to close a €2.8 million mental health unit.
Trade unions, politicians and families of service users have all expressed their shock at the decision to close the recently renovated 22-bed unit at St Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe. The HSE has decided to keep an older unit in Roscommon open instead.
Senior mental health service managers in Co Galway have appealed directly to the National Director of Mental Health Services in Dublin to review the controversial decision as a matter of urgency.
The local managers said in a strongly-worded letter to Stephen Mulvany that they could not understand how a facility which has just been refurbished, at a cost of €2.8 million, could be seen as less modern than the unit at the Department of Psychiatry at Roscommon County Hospital which was last fully refurbished more than 20 years ago.
They have now been joined in the campaign by families of service users, a number of whom turned up at last night’s public meeting in Ballinasloe to express their concern at the turn of events.
The meeting was chaired by Impact trade union assistant general secretary Padraig Mulligan who claimed that the local community, politicians, trade unions and even the mental health service managers themselves were outraged at the decision.
“It makes absolutely no sense and unfortunately this is now being turned into a Galway versus Roscommon issue. It is nothing of the kind-both facilities are needed.
“Everybody is up in arms over this. The only people who want to go ahead with this decision are the HSE themselves. I’ve never come across a decision like this before and I am really shocked at how it has been handled,” Mr Mulligan said.
Roscommon Independent TD Denis Naughten described the Ballinasloe unit as “state of the art - the most modern in the country”. The scoring system used to arrive at the decision made no sense whatever, he insisted.
“Over the summer mental health patients in Roscommon were being sent to Galway because there was no room for them in Roscommon or in Ballinasloe. This decision to close Ballinasloe is simply crazy,” he said.
The HSE said in a brief statement that the National Director for Mental Health Services would be replying in due course to the letter.