Cashel Councillor Tom Wood has raised concerns about the level of investment in mental health services in South Tipperary, and requested that the HSE provide inpatient beds in South Tipperary.
At a recent meeting of the Regional Health Forum, Cllr Wood stated: “As concern arises about the unacceptable level of Investment in Mental Health Services in South Tipperary and with the closure of Saint Michaels Acute Psychiatric Unit in Clonmel widely recognised as a mistake, this Forum calls on the HSE to: Outline what measures will be taken to improve services and, give serious consideration to the provision of inpatient beds again in South Tipperary.”
Cllr Wood told the Tipperary Star: “In calling on the HSE to again provide inpatient beds in South Tipperary I said that the closure of Saint Michael’s Unit, with the transfer of beds to Kilkenny, was now causing grave problems for those requiring the service and for their families. While the response to the motion was lengthy I expressed disappointment that it didn't sufficiently acknowledge and address the present issues of underfunding and understaffing or outline proposals to remedy the significant shortfalls.
“In responding to my questions during the debate on the motion I was informed that while the HSE were reviewing the situation they 'couldn't give a yes or no answer' to the request for the return of inpatient beds and were not aware of the positive pronouncements made by Mr Jim Daly, Minister of State at the Department of Health, with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, on his recent visit to the county.”
Aileen Colley, Chief Officer of the Community Health Organisation, responded to Cllr Wood’s motion: “Following the judgment and Order of the High Court, admissions to St. Michael’s Unit, South Tipperary General Hospital ceased on 5th June 2012 and the acute mental health inpatient services formerly provided at that Unit were transferred on a phased planned basis to the Acute In-patient Unit of the Department of Psychiatry, St. Luke's General Hospital, Kilkenny.
The Department of Psychiatry, St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, a 44 bedded acute psychiatric unit is the designated Mental Health Commission) approved centre for the South Tipperary area.”
A key priority for the HSE has been to shift the model of care from the old long stay institutions and reliance of inpatient settings of care to the development of a comprehensive community based service with services being provided in more “appropriate settings”, added Ms Colley.
Two new Acute Day Services (Day Hospitals) were established in both Clonmel and Cashel. Joint multi-disciplinary assessments now take place in the Acute Day Services, and the South Tipperary Home Based Services became operational on 31st October 2011. Continuing Care Services include the Community Nursing Unit of Haywood Lodge in Clonmel, the High Support Services
South Tipperary in Garryshane House, the CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, the Crisis/Respite House - South Tipperary - in Glenville House (a temporary location) opened on 19th June 2012, the Community Mental Health Centre/Base - South Tipperary Community Mental Health Centre, and the Development of a Mental Health Service in Emergency Department, South Tipperary General Hospital.
“This service, based in the Emergency Department, South Tipperary General Hospital is a unique level of provision compared to other Emergency Departments throughout the country,” added Ms Colley.