Healy says people being failed by our Mental Health
System and calls for a big turn-out at Thursday’s
meeting in Clonmel’s Park Hotel.
During Leader’s Questions on Thursday 26 th of April
Deputy Healy said:
“Children with Mental Health difficulties and their
parents face immense challenges to get an adequate,
or indeed any, service. Due to this, many children carry
those difficulties into their adult lives.
The position would be much worse were it not for the
tremendous work done by community and voluntary
organisations across the country. There are many such
organisations in my own area, including the River Suir
Suicide Patrol, Taxi Watch and C-SAW, the community
suicide awareness workers. These all operate on a
voluntary, unpaid basis and do tremendous work.
There is huge frustration among these organisations,
which feel alone in dealing with issues that should be
properly dealt with by the public mental health service.
These organisations need to be acknowledged,
supported and resourced, along with financial support.
Press Statement on Mental Health
We are failing to provide for our young people. We
need to do so urgently, it must become a Government
priority. We cannot, should not, and hopefully, will not
kick the can further down the road in this. They need
to be implemented urgently not in the next budget but
now, because this is something that is affecting young
people on a minute by minute basis.
Children and young people are being failed by our
mental health system. For the past three months since
February, young people experiencing mental health
difficulties have been admitted to the paediatric ward
in South Tipperary General Hospital. Today, there are
three young people on the ward. There have been as
many as five and their lengths of stay have been as
long as eight weeks. The reason for this, as we all
know, is that there are simply not enough inpatient
beds for young people with mental health difficulties.
Admissions to the paediatric ward in South Tipperary
General Hospital are totally inappropriate.
Nursing staff do their best. They are kind,
compassionate and caring but they are not trained to
Press Statement on Mental Health
provide mental health care. Parents, usually mothers,
must stay on the ward overnight to give support to
their children. Of course, there are knock-on effects in
delayed admissions for other patients.
Every day, young people with mental health difficulties
do not receive the age-appropriate timely services and
supports they need. This causes psychological and
social damage to these young people. It has a
detrimental effect, not just on themselves, but also on
their parents, their siblings, their schools and their
communities. Of course, it reinforces the whole stigma
regarding those with mental health difficulties.
We all know what needs to be done. We have had
report after report. The problem is we have had no
action on those reports or their recommendations.
I remind the Tánaiste that to tackle this significant
issue, we need:
1. additional inpatient beds for children and young
people with mental health difficulties
2. 24-7 crisis intervention teams providing rapid
assessment for those children and young people
3. a comprehensive primary care counselling service
4. a fully staffed existing child and adolescent mental
Press Statement on Mental Health
5. to resource and support, including financially,
community and voluntary organisations working in
6. a designated leader – a tsar-type arrangement –
whose sole duty and responsibility will be to drive
the implementation of these measures to ensure
our young people get the services they deserve
and need urgently. It should be like how cancer
care services developed recently
When will we see these measures being implemented
by the Government?
Link to full Dáil Speech in Leader’s Questions and An
Seamus Healy T.D.
Clonmel, 18th February 2018- The recent approval of new developments at South Tipperary General Hospital, including a 40-bed modular unit, capital investment for a 50-bed new-construct unit and improved out-patient facilities proves once again that people power works.
The Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee welcomes developments at the hospital and commends and thanks all those who played a part in this very positive and significant outcome including the public, patients and their families, hospital staff, local public representatives and Oireachtas members.
Were it not for the Committees project and success in stopping the transfer of all the hospitals acute services to Kilkenny and Waterford, the future developments of the hospital as announced this week would never have happened. That success was a game-changer for the hospitals future development.
The knowledge that 15,000 people from all over Tipperary and indeed parts of County Waterford turned out on the streets of Clonmel and, importantly, that they would turn out again if necessary sent a message to the Health Service Executive, the Department of Health and the Government that could not be ignored. South Tipperary General Hospital must be retained and developed. And, again, I would like to commend those that took to the streets. The publics continued contribution is vital to the hospital and it sets South Tipperary General apart.
South Tipperary was alone in defying the powers-that-be in stopping the transfer of services and the downgrading of the hospital. The Health Service Executive and the Department of Health succeeded in downgrading Nenagh, Ennis, Mallow, Monaghan and Roscommon.
The success of the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee established a platform for the future upgrading of the hospital, for the development of services and for a solution to the trolley crisis.
The Committee, working on a united basis with all stakeholders, met successive Ministers for Health including Minister James Reilly, Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister Simon Harris to impress upon them the need to solve overcrowding and to develop the hospital.
The Committees job now is to ensure that the promises made are implemented, and as speedily as possible, and to that effect the committee is again meeting the South West Hospital Group and South Tipperary General Hospital Management on Monday the 19th of February to progress the construction of the 40-bed modular unit.
The closure of St. Michael’s In-patient Psychiatric Unit at South Tipperary General Hospital by the Minister Kathleen Lynch was a huge blow to patients and their families and it is now widely accepted to have been a mistake. South Tipperary patients must now travel to Kilkenny for in-patient treatment and North Tipperary patients to Ennis. This is totally impractical and is leading to late admissions, inappropriate early discharges, severe over-crowding and harrowing difficulties for patients and their families who must travel to support their loved ones.
The Committee and Oireachtas members have already met Mr. Jim Daly, Minister with responsibility for Mental Health Services with a view to returning in-patient beds to Clonmel. The Minister will visit the services in Clonmel on Tuesday the 20th of February to see the situation for himself and to engage with members of the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee, Mental Health Services Management and Oireachtas members on the issue.
There have been positive exchanges with the Minister and local Health Service Executive Mental Health Management recently.
The Committee and all stake-holders are determined that in-patient psychiatric beds will be returned to Clonmel.
Seamus Healy T.D. Chairperson Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee
South Tipperary General Hospital
The Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee welcomes the long awaited approval for the construction of a 40 bed modular inpatient unit at South Tipperary General Hospital announced by the Minister for Health last Friday.
The announcement is the culmination of almost 2 years work and pressure by the Committee, patients and their families, hospital staff, local and Oireachtas public representatives and the general public. The delivery of these beds by June 2018, will require a hugely concentrated effort and commitment and the dovetailing of a number of processes including tendering, planning, building, fitting out and staffing.
In order to drive this project forward, The Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee and Oireachtas Members will be meeting H.S.E. Officials on an ongoing basis, starting the first week of November, to make sure targets are set and met.
These modular beds are, of course, only an interim and partial solution to the continuing crisis at the hospital. The delivery of these beds and the crucial future development of permanent beds, new wards and upgraded facilities will require a continued united effort to deliver for the people of the County. The Hospital Committee policy over the last 9 years of inclusivity and united effort of the public, patients, staff, hospital management, the media and the people of all political persuasions and none has been particularly successful.
In this Context, the Committee welcomes the assurance by the Minister for Health, at our meeting on Friday last, that capital funding will be allocated in November’s Capital Budget to allow this process to commence.
The Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee is seriously concerned at the unacceptable level of mental health services in the County.
The closure of St Michael’s Unit and the transfer of acute inpatient psychiatric beds to Kilkenny and Ennis has been nothing short of disastrous and despite promises of a Rolls Royce community based service, we are now left with an utterly inadequate, under resourced, underfunded and understaffed service.
At our Committee’s request, on Friday last, Minister Harris has agreed that Mr Jim Daly T.D., Minister with responsibility for Mental Health Services will meet a deputation from the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee and Oireachtas Members shortly to address these issues.
Seamus Healy T.D. Chairperson Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee 19/9/2017
The Taoiseach’s reply today regarding South Tipperary General Hospital was absolutely disappointing and unacceptable. As the Taoiseach, the HSE, the management of the hospital and the management of the South-South West hospital group well know, the situation in South Tipperary General Hospital is absolutely atrocious.
I welcome the opportunity to speak to and support the motion. A Vision for Change, published in 2006, is a template for a community-based progressive and modern mental health system. The policy emphasises provision of a mental health system based on community services and supports provided by community-based multi-disciplinary teams with a significantly reduced need for inpatient services. Ten years later, there is a crisis in our mental health services arising from and compounded by the abject failure to fund, resource, staff and implement the A Vision for Change policy. The Government failed in budget 2017 to address the resource issues needed for mental health services. In July of this year, the Department of Health stated that €35.4 million per year over the next five years was needed to implement A Vision for Change. Despite that, only €15 million was provided; a shortfall, therefore, of €20 million.
The mental health services in my own constituency of Tipperary are a good example of the malaise in which the services are at both a local and national level. Despite the best efforts of staff, the service is dysfunctional. In 2010, then Fianna Fáil Minister of State, John Moloney, decided to close the county’s inpatient services at St. Michael’s unit in Clonmel. His successor, then Labour Party Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch, implemented that closure, despite the opposition of service users, carers, doctors, nursing staff and the public generally. South Tipperary inpatients were sent to Kilkenny and north Tipperary inpatients were sent to Ennis. That was done in 2012. The Minister of State sold the closure on the basis of a promise, quid pro quo, of a Rolls-Royce community-based service.
Three years later, we have the worst of all worlds. We have no inpatient service, community services are under-staffed, under-resourced and under-funded, and community-based teams are struggling to provide a safe service. They are deficient of staff across all categories of nursing, medical and paramedic staff. We have no 24-7 service. The new crisis house promised has not materialised. Patients are assessed in wholly unsuitable, busy and overcrowded accident and emergency departments with no privacy or confidentiality. The inpatient services in Kilkenny and Ennis are regularly overcrowded, there is difficulty in gaining admission and very often inappropriate early discharge. There is the proposed closure of the unit at Mount Sion in Tipperary town. The situation is wholly unacceptable. I call on the Minister of State to immediately implement A Vision for Change in Tipperary, including the provision of 24-7 services, the recruiting of additional nursing, medical and paramedic staff for our multi-disciplinary teams, the re-opening of the inpatient unit at St. Michael’s in Clonmel and a commitment to keep the Mount Sion unit open.
I acknowledge the excellent work being done by various voluntary organisations in the area of mental health locally.
I acknowledge organisations such as the consumer mental health panels, C-SAW suicide awareness group, the River Suir Suicide Patrol, Taxi Watch, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan support group and the Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue organisation among many others. I call on the Minister of State, Deputy McEntee, as a matter of urgency, to meet with a deputation from County Tipperary about the mental health services in the county.