Relatives angry over planned closure of Roscommon psychiatric unit

HSE to close Rosalie Unit in Castlerea, leaving 12 residents needing alternative care

Local TD Denis Naughten: Relatives have urged the former minister to withdraw support for the Government unless the decision to close the unit is reversed. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Local TD Denis Naughten: Relatives have urged the former minister to withdraw support for the Government unless the decision to close the unit is reversed. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

A psychiatric unit in Co Roscommon is to be closed, the Health Service Executive has said.

The 34-bed Rosalie Unit in Castlerea, currently home to 12 residents, “will cease to function as a community psychiatric unit”, the HSE said.

In a letter received on Wednesday morning by the residents’ relatives, HSE chief officer Tony Canavan said a recent review of the residents’ clinical needs found they do not require continuing in-patient psychiatric care.

Mr Canavan said he had considered and accepted a report on the needs of the residents and had asked the local mental health team to put alternative care arrangements in place for each resident.

“In arriving at this decision I am cognisant of the controversies that have surrounded the unit over the years; however, my first obligation is to your loved ones as residents of the Rosalie Unit,” Mr Canavan wrote.

“I cannot simply ignore those clinical assessments conducted last year which have now been independently and externally validated – these assessments state that your relatives’ needs are no longer best met in the Rosalie Unit.”

He said the next phase would involve a “transition plan” being put in place for each resident, in consultation with relatives.

Local cemetery

One relative, Anita Flanagan, said when her brother Dan Connaughton was being assessed, he was asked where he would go if the Rosalie Unit was closed, and he had replied “St Joseph’s”, which the questioner did not realise was the local cemetery.

“That is Dan’s view on this,” she said. “All his needs are being met there. It is his home.”

The facility has been the subject of speculation for years, and campaigners pointed out that as far back as 2015, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had, as then minister for health, given a commitment about its future.

Liam Walsh, whose 84-year-old mother has been a resident of the unit for 10 years, urged local TDs, former minister Denis Naughten and Fianna Fáil’s Eugene Murphy, to withdraw their support from the Government unless the decision is reversed.

The HSE had been trying for years to close the facility “by stealth” by not accepting new referrals, and “money is at the back of it all”, he said.

It is a terrible way to treat people who have no voice

Mr Naughten, who described the development as “wrong, immoral and contrary to good policy”, said he believes the ultimate aim is to close down the unit despite all the commitments given in the past.

“I am angry about the way these people have been treated since 2015,” said the Roscommon-Galway TD.

Withdraw support

Asked about calls on him to withdraw support from the Government, Mr Naughten said, “for me there is no support to withdraw. I only support the Government on a case by case basis.”

Mr Murphy said the Government had broken a series of promises made to the residents and their families including a commitment given by the Taoiseach as minister for health.

“It is a terrible way to treat people who have no voice,” he said.

Asked about the call on him to cease supporting the Government, Mr Murphy said, “the only support Fianna Fáil has been giving is for budgets and in my view that will come to an end soon. I would have no difficulty supporting the residents of the Rosalie unit if there is such a motion before the Dáil, and indeed I would hope to bring one.”