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Acute Psychiatric services at University Hospital Waterford under threat – David Cullinane TD

22 February, 2017 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane TD has expressed alarm at the threat to psychiatric services at University Hospital Waterford. He said the threat by the Mental Health Commission to close 8 of the 14 acute mental health beds is a direct result of bad policy and underinvestment. 

Speaking to a motion he submitted in the Dáil on the issue Deputy Cullinane said:

“It is without alarm that I learned of the proposal from the Mental Health Commission to reduce acute psychiatric bed capacity at University Hospital Waterford. It is all the more distressing given that the reason is due to their fears of the current system and a lack of capacity. 

“The Mental Health Commission quite rightly point to a lack of staff, a lack of therapies and therapists, a lack of psychiatrists and a lack of recreational and physical space at the existing unit. 

“However it is completely unacceptable that patients in Waterford and Wexford with mental health issues be punished for the failure by Government to invest.  

“Today I received correspondence from a constituent who suffers from mental health issues.

“Her name is Antoinette Murphy. “She runs an organisation called Candles in the Dark and is campaigning for improved mental health services. 

She sent me the following note:

“On Monday 23rd January I presented to the Emergency Department at University Hospital Waterford. 

I was suffering from chest pains and was having a panic attack. 

I was seen by a psychiatrist but was informed that due to a shortage of beds I could not be admitted. 

I was turned away and I was left devastated. 

The staff informed me that I was the fourth person to be turned away that night. 

How is it allowed (she asks) that people with suicidal ideation are turned away without adequate supports. 

I would have gladly sat on a glass floor rather than being sent home.

I was left at home and suffered multiple panic attacks since. 

Do those in authority understand what it is like to suffer from mental health issues?

Why do they allow a grossly inadequate system to remain in place?”

“It is hard not to agree with the questions Antoinette poses.

“If beds are closed more people will be turned away and deprived of services.  This cannot and will not be tolerated. 

“The Minister failed to give assurances that beds will not be closed and services reduced. We cannot and should not tolerate any diminution of mental health services at UHW.” 

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