Warning of growing crisis in mental health services in West Dublin

by Rachel Cunningham
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The Psychiatric Nurses Association has warned of a growing crisis in the provision of mental health services in the West Dublin area, following the closure of a 16-bed sub-acute unit in the St James’s hospital psychiatric unit, due to nursing shortages. 

The unit was closed from last Monday, September 19, leaving just 22 acute admission beds for the entire catchment area. 

This news comes just three months after the closure of 11 beds in Linn Dara child and adolescent mental health unit in Cherry Orchard, Dublin. Despite being scheduled for re-opening in September, the PNA has suggested this may be jeopardised, as a further seven nurses are due to leave Linn Dara in the coming months. 

The PNA highlighted that there are “at least” 25 vacant posts in Tallaght Hospital’s acute mental health unit, the equivalent of an over 40 per cent vacancy rate. 

The association’s general secretary, Peter Hughes, claimed that it is “totally unacceptable” that nursing vacancies have been allowed to reduce to such an extent that beds are being closed and vital services are being denied to the communities involved. 

“The loss of beds in St James’s and Linn Dara will have a serious detrimental impact on the delivery of services throughout CH07 area and will put further pressure on remaining services and staff. 

“We are witnessing an exodus of nurses and graduates from our mental health services to pursue opportunities abroad and we need an urgent and imaginative response to adequately staff our services”, he said. 

Describing the situations in St James, Tallaght and Linn Dara as “symptoms of the wider crisis in the recruitment and retention of psychiatric nurses” and the “direct result of failed HSE workforce planning”, he called on the HSE to target solutions and incentives to encourage the recruitment and retention of nurses. 

The general secretary has requested an urgent meeting with HSE to address these developments.

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