Staff shortages force closure of 16-bed psychiatric unit in Dublin

Step-down unit at St James’s Hospital is due to close on August 21st due to staffing shortages

ARCHIVE.. Entrance (Rialto side) St James' Hospital, Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller 13.4.06

The planned closure next week of a 16-bed facility at St James’s Hospital’s psychiatric unit will “seriously impact the provision of mental health services in the Dublin area”, a professional body has warned.

The subacute unit is due to close on August 21st due to staffing shortages.

The closure was “a direct result of the failure to recruit and retain sufficient psychiatric nursing staff to maintain services,” the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said on Wednesday.

PNA general secretary Peter Hughes said the loss of the facility “confirmed that the staffing situation in our mental health services is now so serious that whereas previously services would be curtailed because of staffing shortages, the HSE is now closing beds completely”.


Mr Hughes described the closure as an “extremely worrying development for everyone trying to access services”.

It comes in the wake of the failure to reopen 11 beds in the Linn Dara child and adolescent mental health unit in Cherry Orchard, Co Dublin.

“The loss of beds in St James’s and Linn Dara will have a serious impact on the delivery of services throughout the community health organisation area seven region and will have the knock-on effect of increasing demand for services in other parts of Dublin which will put further pressure on remaining services and staff,” Mr Hughes said.

A PNA national survey from last year found 700 psychiatric nursing staff vacancies in mental health services throughout the country, showing “the full extent” of the crisis, Mr Hughes added.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on mental health Mark Ward said there was a growing crisis in the provision of mental health services in Dublin.

Speaking after the news of the closure was confirmed, Mr Ward said it was “yet another body blow for mental health provision in CHO 7″.

“The beds in the subacute unit are a vital cog in a patient’s recovery from mental ill health. This unit is a step-down service to ease a patient back into their community and on to the road to recovery,” he said, calling the closure “inexcusable”.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times