Earlier today Deputy Seamus Healy TD raised again in the Dáil at Leaders Questions with the Taoiseach the issue of the lack of adult inpatient psychiatric beds and the need for the provision of a properly resourced, properly funded and integrated mental health service in Tipperary with the Minister, He will as always keep you updated.
Priority Question 5. To ask the Minister for Health his plans to open adult inpatient psychiatric beds in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28609/18]
Séamus Healy (Tipperary, Workers and Unemployed Action Group)
This raises again the need for the provision of a properly resourced, properly funded and integrated mental health service for County Tipperary with particular reference to the need to reopen adult inpatient psychiatric beds wrongly closed at St. Michael’s unit in Clonmel in 2012.
Jim Daly (Cork South West, Fine Gael) The provision of acute inpatient care to the adult population of north Tipperary, which is in CHO 3, is provided between the acute unit in University Hospital Limerick, which has 50 beds, and the acute psychiatric unit in Ennis, which has 39 beds.
The 44 bed department of psychiatry based at St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny, is the designated approved centre for acute inpatient services for south Tipperary, which is in CHO 5. This enables all acute inpatient admissions for this CHO area to be managed at a single site. Referrals to St. Luke’s are through a consultant psychiatrist who makes the clinical decision to admit based on the level of acute presentation or need. In addition to the department of psychiatry, a dedicated psychiatric liaison team operates out of the emergency department in St. Luke’s. All service users presenting to the emergency department who require psychiatric assessment will receive that assessment within agreed timeframes in line with relevant guidelines. Onward referral pathways are agreed with all service users upon completion of psychiatric assessment in the emergency department. Pathways can include admission to an acute unit, referral to a relevant community mental health service team or referral back to a GP.
There are a range of other mental health services for adults in Tipperary. These include, for example, psychiatry of old age teams, non-acute beds, day hospitals and day centres. In addition, there are community mental health teams and high, medium and low-support community residences. In respect of those under 18, there are three CAMHS teams operating in Tipperary, one in north Tipperary and two in south Tipperary. The CAMHS acute units at Eist Linn in Cork and Merlin Park in Galway, which have a total of 42 beds, serve the Tipperary catchment area.
The HSE indicates that the south east community healthcare area has the second lowest rate of acute psychiatric bed provision. If this area were to be provided with the national average rate of bed provision, an additional 18 acute psychiatric care beds would be required. Evolving demographic pressures have recently led to over-occupancy at the departments of psychiatry at both St. Luke’s General Hospital Kilkenny and University Hospital Waterford.
The Deputy will be aware that I met local delegations on several occasions over recent months to discuss current and future provision of mental health services in Tipperary, including reviewing bed capacity. I also visited mental health facilities in south Tipperary in February last. Further to my correspondence of 11 May with the chief officer of CHO 5, the south east mental health service management team met a delegation of local representatives and discussed in detail all issues concerning the delivery of mental health services in Tipperary, including the potential for additional acute psychiatric beds across the south east community healthcare area. South east community healthcare mental health services has also engaged with HSE estates on the potential to develop psychiatric inpatient beds at the four acute hospital sites in the region.
I will continue to monitor the development of all mental health services in Tipperary, particularly in the context of progressing new service developments agreed under the HSE service plan and through additional investment for mental health provided by Government.
Séamus Healy (Tipperary, Workers and Unemployed Action Group)
I acknowledge the interest and involvement of the Minister of State in this issue since his appointment. As he said, he met representatives of the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee and Oireachtas Members on two occasions in Leinster House. He has visited the services in Clonmel and met all the stakeholders involved, including mental health service management in the south east. There is a serious and growing concern about the state of mental health services in the county, specifically that they are substandard and that there are no inpatient beds. A new umbrella organisation, Tipperary’s Fight for Mental Health Services, has been involved recently in public meetings and a public march on this issue. That organisation is supported by all the local Oireachtas Members and a large number of councillors as well. The Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee has been engaging with mental health service management in the south east. At our most recent meeting, the management accepted that there was a shortage of beds in the south east and that Tipperary had a strong case for additional beds. They also indicated it would be helpful if the Minister of State was in a position to meet the negotiating team. Will he do that?
Jim Daly (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
The Deputy was present at the meeting with local Oireachtas representatives on 2 May and he has consistently been proactive on this issue. On 11 May, I wrote to the chief officer of CHO 5 outlining that there is a need to restore some acute bed provision for adults in Tipperary following the closure of St. Michael’s unit some years ago and given the consequent transport and access difficulties to St. Luke’s mental health unit in Kilkenny and to Ennis, which were highlighted to me. I emphasised the need for progress to construction as quickly as possible of the new respite crisis house in Clonmel to replace the existing facility there, including the provision of a construction date for that facility. I also highlighted the inadequate enhancement of community-based services since 2012 to compensate for the closure of St. Michael’s, particularly comparing the level of services envisaged by the HSE against what has been delivered, and referred to the inadequate staffing levels for both adult and CAMHS teams in Tipperary. I referred to the further issue of poor access to Eist Linn CAMHS unit in Cork, resulting in long stays for under-18s in adult health facilities in Tipperary, which has always been a concern of mine. The Deputy will be aware that I have spoken to a number of parents of children who have been left waiting in South Tipperary General Hospital, which is not appropriate or acceptable.
Séamus Healy (Tipperary, Workers and Unemployed Action Group)
The representatives of the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee have met mental health service management on three occasions. On the most recent occasion, they accepted that there is a need for additional beds in the area and that south Tipperary has a strong case. They also indicated that the Minister of State’s involvement at a future meeting would be helpful and I ask again if he would be prepared to do that. At this stage, we need action and political input at the highest level to move this issue forward.
I would be more than happy to continue the engagement I have had with the Deputy. I am concerned about the issues in south Tipperary and have a good understanding of them. I am awaiting a response from the chief officer of CHO 5. I asked my officials this week to follow up to ensure that I get a written response, which I expect to have in the next week or ten days. As soon as I have it, I will certainly be happy to engage further with the Deputy. There is potential in the development of the new 50-bed unit. I have asked HSE estates section to consider the provision of a number of those beds for mental health services without distorting the plans that are in progress. It should not create a delay. That is the route I am following and I will certainly meet with the Deputy, Oireachtas colleagues and whomever they want me to meet in Tipperary. My focus on working with the HSE and as soon as I receive a response from the chief officer, I will progress the issue.
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.