Shock as Linn Dara mental health facility for children shut in Cherry Orchard

by Rachel Darcy

The sudden closure of day services at Linn Dara, a children’s mental health centre in Cherry Orchard, was protested by parents last Friday.

Services at the centre ceased unexpectedly on Friday, with the sudden closure causing outrage amongst parents and politicians.

The outpatient day services were viewed as a vital solution for those who could not access inpatient care and need urgent treatment due to lengthy waiting lists.

Child upset in a doorway.

Linn Dara’s temporary closure means many children may suffer further.

Linn Dara is one of just three high-observation services for child and mental health services (CAMHS) in the entire country, despite recommendations that there should be 15 such hospitals.

Beds in the Linn Dara facility at Cherry Orchard Hospital were halved last year due to a staffing crisis, meaning just 11 beds were available for those in need.
A video from the protest was posted to Facebook by local resident Lisa Palmer, a member of Mental Health Warriors.

In the video, she says that as the group are “trying to further mental health facilities and ask the HSE for more, [the HSE] are closing down the services that are presently available” and the closure is going to have a “serious impact” on “children and teenagers” in the area.

In a statement to Dublin Gazette, the HSE said the closure is temporary, and they expect services to resume at Linn Dara in the Autumn.

The statement read: “A decision has been taken by the Linn Dara management team to temporarily suspend the Linn Dara day programme in order to maintain essential community and inpatient services. The day programme will reopen in September/October.

“This decision has been reluctantly taken due to psychiatry and allied health professional temporary staffing shortages within the community sectors.”

There will be another protest held tonight (Thursday, July 12), calling for Minister for Health Simon Harris to re-open the much-needed beds.

Cllr Daithi Doolan (SF) has said that he will table an emergency motion on the closure at the next South-Central Area Meeting, which is expected to take place next Wednesday, July 18.

Speaking to Dublin Gazette, Cllr Doolan said: “Linn Dara provided an essential service to Cherry Orchard, Ballyfermot and beyond. The day service offered real support to those waiting to access the residential unit.

“The public are sick and tired of health care cuts damaging their children and loved ones. We are hearing [of] chaos and tragedy from hundreds of suffering children and their parents.”

SF Seanad spokesperson on Mental Health, and psychiatric nurse, Senator Maire Devine said: “This is another scathing attack on child and mental health services. It is morally inexcusable.

Linn Dara CAMHS in Cherry Orchard.

“Every week on the Mental Health Committee, we are hearing [of] chaos and tragedy from hundreds of suffering children and their parents doing their absolute best but facing, in many cases, an 18-month waiting list for help.

“The decision to close [Linn Dara] flies in the face of best practise for mental health services.

“The inpatient unit at Linn Dara is operating at full capacity. The day service offered an alternative to those vulnerable children who need high-level support but can also heal in their homes and in the community.

“I will be calling the Minister [for Health] into the Seanad next week. He cannot remain silent and unaccountable for this, she said.

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