Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Two wards to close at St. Lukes Psychiatric Hospital - Boylan

21 April, 2008


Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan has expressed serious reservations after the Health Minister disclosed the closure of two wards at St. Lukes Psychiatric Hospital site in Armagh.

The Sinn Féin Assembly member had asked the Health Minister what would be the impact the announcement of a new mental health facility at Craigavon Area Hospital on the St. Lukes site.

The Minister responded by saying:

"The immediate impact . . . will be that two wards, which had been temporarily re-sited there for the last 6 years, will return to their original location in Craigavon.

"In the longer term, the Southern Trust and the Southern Board will be commencing a review to modernise and reform all mental health services in the Southern area."

Commenting on the answer from the Minister, Mr. Boylan said,

"I am sure the staff and patients are disappointed to hear of these ward closures. But I am sure that, like myself, they will more concerned with Mr McGimpsey's words further in his answer, where he speaks of reviews, modernisation and looking at locations for in-patient beds - all civil service speak for the possibility of further ward closures or relocation of services.

"St. Lukes is major employer within Armagh City and District any planned, systematic dismantling of services there will have a wide impact on the community. It is renowned for excellent practice in their field.

"Cutting back on services for people with mental health problems and losing valuable expertise from the area will have a detrimental effect and I hope any further decisions to be made by the Minister are made in conjunction with serious consultation with staff and management at the site as well as the general public." ENDS

Note to Editors

Full Response from the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey:

"The immediate impact which the opening of the Crisis Resource Centre at Craigavon Area Hospital will have on the St. Luke's site in Armagh will be that two wards, which had been temporarily re-sited there for the last 6 years, will return to their original location in Craigavon.

"St. Luke's will continue to provide one general adult psychiatric ward, the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit for the whole of the Southern area, the Addictions unit for the whole of the Southern area, the Southern Dementia Assessment Unit and 4 long-stay/rehabilitation wards.

In the longer term, the Southern Trust and the Southern Board will be commencing a review to modernise and reform all mental health services in the Southern area, to ensure that the Trust continues to develop a range of services consistent with best practice, and in line with the Bamford Review. As part of this process, the enhancement of community-based treatment and care options should enable the further review of the number and location of in-patient psychiatric beds over time."

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