Situation at the Psychiatric Department in the Regional Hospital.

Press Statement: 12th

Councillor Catherine Connolly and member of the RegionalHealth Forum said she continues to receive the most urgent representations in relation to the situation at the Psychiatric Department in the Regional Hospital.

She said it has been openly accepted by all including HSE WestManagement that the Psychiatric Unit in the Regional Hospital is not fit for purpose and the hence the need for a new 50 bedded unit.

Yet the decision made by HSE West Management not to allow any more admissions to the 22 bedded state of the art unit in Ballinasloe and at the very least pending the construction of the new unit in Galway is putting unsustainable pressure on an already pressurised mental health service in Galway.

Cllr Connolly said she has now been reliably informed that there are currently 45 beds occupied in the Psychiatric Unit, a figure that greatly exceeds the no of beds occupied at any of the dates of inspections by the Mental Health Commission over the last 4 years.

Indeed in February 2013 when the Mental Health Commission carried out its last unannounced full inspection they recorded a capacity of just 35 beds with 34 occupied. Furthermore and significantly in their report on that inspection they noted serious concerns in relation to lack of sufficient psychological and occupational therapy staff, lack of individual care plans for patients together with inadequate record keeping, the use of an ante room in a seclusion room as a bedroom and further noted the need for therapeutic services and programs to meet assessed needs of the patients in accordance with individual care plans.

Notwithstanding these very serious concerns and a condition attached to the Mental Health Commission report re the lack of such a basis requirement as an individual care plan, the psychiatric unit now has 44 beds occupied. Moreover at given times Cllr Connolly said she has been informed that both male and female patients are together on the ward and that currently no psychologistis available.

In addition she said she would have the most serious concerns for the well being of vulnerable patients in the Ballinasloe, Portumna and South Galway area who now have to travel to Galway to a unit that is literally creaking at the seams on a site that is utterly congested.

In the meantime the 22 bed state of the art unit in Ballinasloe remains empty.

Councillor Connolly said the situation is actually frightening and management and the Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch must he held to account.

Cllr Connolly said she will be raising this matter at the first opportunity at the next Health Forum meeting in early April and indeed is calling on the Health Commission to carry out a full inspection of the psychiatric unit as a matter of urgency given that it is over one year since their last unannounced full inspection and following which they had the most serious concerns with a unit of only 34 beds occupancy!

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