Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has warned of a growing crisis in the provision of mental health services in Dublin after it was confirmed that, due to nursing shortages, the 16-bed Sub-Acute Unit in the St James’s Hospital Psychiatric Unit will close next week.
Speaking after the news was confirmed by Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), Teachta Ward said:
“The closure of these 16 beds is yet another body blow for mental health provision in CHO 7.
“The beds in the Sub-Acute unit are a vital cog in a patient’s recovery from mental ill health. This unit is a step-down service to ease a patient back into their community and onto the road to recovery.
“The Psychiatric Nurses Association blamed the planned closure of the 16-bed unit on a staffing crisis and said there had been a failure to recruit and retain sufficient psychiatric nursing staff to maintain services.
“PNA General Secretary Peter Hughes said that the 16 beds equate to almost 50% of the admission beds for the St James’s service and the catchment area of 134,000 people.
“This issue was raised last year and the government and HSE have failed to act.
“The closure of mental health beds during a mental health emergency is inexcusable.
“There is also a complete lack in community-based mental health services which compounds the issue.
“The closure of these beds comes on top of the decision to close 11 of the 23 inpatient beds in Linn Dara, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
“The beds in Linn Dara closed in May 2022 and, despite government promises, they remain closed.
“The HSE and government must now come forward to target solutions and incentives to encourage the recruitment and retention of nurses to adequately staff mental health.
“There is a serious problem in workforce planning in the HSE. The recruitment and retention problems of health care staff needs to be addressed, particularly in Dublin.”