Taoiseach says bed shortages will not lead to mental health discharges

HSE says it will close 11 beds in children’s mental health facility in Dublin

 Taoiseach  Enda Kenny: he told the Dáil on Tuesday that Minister of State for Health Helen McEntee was in regular   contact with the HSE regarding  Linn Dara children’s mental health facility.  Photograph: Felipe Trueba/EPA

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: he told the Dáil on Tuesday that Minister of State for Health Helen McEntee was in regular contact with the HSE regarding Linn Dara children’s mental health facility. Photograph: Felipe Trueba/EPA

 

No patient will be discharged from the Linn Dara children’s mental health facility in Dublin over bed shortages, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

“Let me assure people that any discharges from Linn Dara are clinical decisions and are planned discharges,’’ he added.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed it will close 11 beds in the facility, which is based beside Cherry Orchard Hospital in Ballyfermot, from Friday, because of a shortage of nurses.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil on Tuesday that Minister of State for Health Helen McEntee was in regular and very close contact with the HSE regarding the particular difficulties involved.

“Clearly, however, there are staffing difficulties at this facility,’’ he added.

Mr Kenny said the unit currently relies on staff working overtime and agency staff being used.

However, the core issue facing Linn Dara related specifically to staff recruitment difficulties for mental health professionals, he added. Mr Kenny said the problem did not relate to funding or the restructuring of services.

The Taoiseach was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who said the parents of patients at the facility were under enormous pressure.

“Children who were admitted two weeks ago as being in emergency situations, at high risk and in need of emergency admission, are now being discharged early,’’ Mr Martin added. He said while the unit was meant to have 100 beds, there were just 63 currently, to be reduced to 52.

Damaging impact

Mr Martin claimed there was a growing crisis in the mental health services which was having a damaging impact on people with mental health issues, particularly children.

He said a case had been brought to his attention where a patient presented to an emergency department with a GP’s letter saying that he was suicidal.

“He was simply put on anti-depressants and discharged without admission,’’ Mr Martin added.

Mr Kenny said mental health funding had increased from €826 million last year to €853 million this year.

Over 160 additional posts had been created for the HSE mental health area over the January-March period this year, he added.