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.
Last night Deputy Healy spoke in the Dáil during which time he reminded the Minister for Health of his promises in relation to South Tipperary General Hospital. In particular he sought the urgent provision of additional beds as promised by Minister Harris on his visit to the hospital last year.
Nine months ago Minister Harris visited South Tipperary General Hospital, he described the conditions at the hospital as “utterly unacceptable”, he said “solutions must be found” and that a decision would be made by the end of the year (2016). Nothing has happened. South Tipperary General Hospital is a progressive, forward looking, efficient hospital but unfortunately despite the best efforts of staff there is horrendous chaos at the hospital. Minister Harris must fulfil his promise and make funds available immediately for 40 additional inpatient beds to address the chaos at the hospital caused by the policies of this and previous Governments.
Waiting Lists – Statement in the Dáil 09 February 2017
Seamus Healy TD:
The recent “RTE Investigates” programme told us what we have all known for many years. The nation was rightly shocked. It put the human face of pain and suffering on the figures. The public has been misled. The term “alternative facts” comes to mind. The public is entitled to, must be told and know the truth. The long waiting lists are the result of cuts to services by successive governments, for example, 2,000 beds have been taken out of the system, there is overcrowding in accident and emergency departments, posts are not filled and there is a moratorium on posts. I have been raising these issues for some time.
I recently raised the issue of the urology waiting list at University Hospital Waterford. A letter received by one of my constituents puts the case very plainly:
We are writing to inform you that you have been placed on … waiting list. We will forward you an appointment in due course.
You have been prioritised as: URGENT.
You should expect to be seen within 48+ months.
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
The constituent must wait more than four years. The reply from the HSE and the Minister, which I received only yesterday, confirms that there is a major problem at University Hospital Waterford. It states, “The clinical risk for the Urology Services is on the Corporate Risk Register and is rated high risk.” The management at the hospital has applied for additional resources, two consultant urologists, support staff and funding to provide a proper service to the hospital. Those resources have not been provided. Will the Minister provide those resources not just for University Hospital Waterford but for all those from the south east, including Tipperary, using the services at the hospital?
In view of the fact that the urology outpatient waiting list at Waterford University Hospital is now 48-plus months, I asked Minister for Health Simon Harris what proposals he has to rectify the situation. He has referred my question to the HSE for reply. I will continue to follow up and keep you updated.
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.