Closure of mental health day services called ‘disgraceful’

By Maurice Garvey

THE HSE has been accused of a “lack of forward planning” after the closure of mental health day services for young people in Cherry Orchard Hospital.

On July 6, the HSE closed the Linn Dara CAHMS day programme due to staffing shortage and to “maintain community and inpatient services”.

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Department of Health urged to look at the situation again

Last year, half of the 22 beds in the inpatient service at Linn Dara were closed for five months, for similar reasons.

Cherry Orchard resident Lisa Palmer, who has been involved in protests with community group Mental Health Warriors outside the hospital, says the closure will affect “hundreds of young people from the area”.

Ms Palmer, a strong activist for mental health services in Cherry Orchard, wrote to Minister of State Jim Daly, criticising a “disgraceful decision”, citing a “vital resource for a disadvantaged area with high suicide rates”.

Sinn Fein TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh called the closure  a “retrograde step” which will add huge pressure on inpatient services.

In the Dáil on Tuesday, Deputy Ó Snodaigh asked Health Minister Simon Harris to reopen the service.

TD Pat Buckley blasted the Department of Health for not answering questions on costs to run the service.

Exact same situation

“Twelve months on, we are in the exact same situation. All we are getting is absolute waffle from the Department. There is no forward planning,” said Deputy Buckley.

In a statement to The Echo, the HSE said the day programme will reopen in September/October 2018.

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

The HSE said psychiatry and multidisciplinary staff have been re-assigned from the adolescent day programme to maintain the other essential services and the “small number of young people” scheduled to attend the day programme will continue to receive appropriate support.

“Whilst this is a regrettable position, we have a responsibility to ensure safe, adequate and sufficient provision to all areas of the service.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh urged the Department to “look at this again now, rather than waiting until September or October before deciding when this service will be reopened.”

“This means that more than 200,000 young people (in the region) no longer have access to day programmes – it could be detrimental to their health and future well-being,” he said.

Residents will hold another protest outside the hospital today (Thursday, July 12) at 6pm.

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