Minister accepts process that closed acute unit in Ballinasloe

Psychiatrists accuse HSE West of discussing closing one of three acute mental health units after it had already taken decision to shut Ballinasloe unit

Kathleen Lynch: has ruled out an independent review into a HSE West decision to shut down the new €2.8 million acute mental health unit

Kathleen Lynch: has ruled out an independent review into a HSE West decision to shut down the new €2.8 million acute mental health unit

Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 01:00


The Minister of State for Health has ruled out the possibility of an independent review into a HSE West decision to shut down a new €2.8 million acute mental health unit in Co Galway.

Kathleen Lynch said she accepted the “points system” used to favour an older facility at Roscommon County Hospital over the new 22-bed unit at St Brigid’s Hospital, Ballinasloe, which was only completed in July of this year.

The decision to close the unit led to several hundred people protesting in Ballinasloe to support the East Galway Mental Health Action Group campaign to keep it open.


Decision
Senior consultant psychiatrists have also accused HSE West management of discussing the possibility of closing one of the three acute mental health units in Galway and Roscommon with them after they had already taken the decision to shut down the unit in Ballinasloe.

The East Galway consultants, Dr Margaret O’Grady, Dr Sabina Fahy and Dr Eugene Macken, were briefed by management in relation to a staffing crisis at the inpatient units in early July, when they were told nursing agency staff could not be employed.


‘Manpower efficiencies’
“With reluctance it was suggested that perhaps the time had come to look at locating the beds in two acute units, as opposed to three, to create manpower efficiencies,” the three psychiatrists said in a letter to local media this week.

“It was agreed that the scoring process should proceed. At this stage, we in east Galway were unaware that the scoring process had already been completed and that a decision had been made to close the acute beds in Ballinasloe.”

The consultants have expressed their concerns to the national director for Mental Health Services, the chief executive of the HSE, Minister for Health James Reilly and the chief executive of the Mental Health Commission.