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’ Hospital Psychiatric Unit will close from Monday.
Speaking after the news was confirmed by Psychiatric Nurses Association, 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 on to the road to recovery.
“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 this year, and were meant to reopen this month. They remain closed.
“The HSE and the government must now come forward to target solutions and incentives to encourage the recruitment and retention of nurses to adequately staff mental health services, including CAMHS services, nationally.
“There is a serious problem in workforce planning in the HSE. The recruitment and retention problems of healthcare staff needs to be addressed, particularly in Dublin.
“Information I received from the HSE, about exit interviews conducted in CHO 7 for healthcare workers leaving their posts, showed the reasons included:
“Moving to another HSE area – the cost of purchasing property in this CHO area is expensive and staff are generally not in a position to get on the property ladder, particularly those at the start of their career. The availability and cost of renting property is also another significant factor.
“Further training – this applies mainly to the medical profession.
“Family – staff decide to relocate outside the area but cannot sustain the long commute each day. Staff are seeking an improved work life balance.
“I am calling for the Minister to conduct an urgent review and to introduce measures that will entice healthcare workers to work in Dublin.
“Sinn Féin’s alternative budget includes €21 million in additional spending on workforce planning in addition to €26 million for 1500 additional further and higher education places.
“We need a plan that will look at the here and now and to put the foundations in place for future healthcare needs.
“Minister Mary Butler has failed to appoint a National Director for Mental Health to address this accountability. I supported her call for this appointment but the HSE have so far refused.
“I am supporting the Psychiatric Nurses Association who have requested an urgent meeting with the HSE.”