A symptom of a sick health service
Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30
The problems endured by patients and staff in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital are just one symptom of the poor state of many parts of the country's psychiatric service.
Last spring Prof Shane O'Neill resigned as clinical director of Beaumont over the failure to include an assessment unit in the newly-opened Ashlin centre for psychiatric patients.
Doctors warned that it was "indefensible" to have acutely ill psychiatric patients forced to go to the hospital's notoriously overcrowded emergency department instead in the evenings and weekends.
One year on, emergency consultant Dr Peadar Gilligan said the worst fears have been confirmed. Not only are psychiatric patients having to be cared for in the chaotic emergency department, but the lack of beds means they are spending days on trolleys.
On some rare occasions, the psychiatric patient has been in a state of acute psychosis, putting themselves, other patients and staff at potential serious risk.
The recent annual report of the Mental Health Commission also highlighted the accommodation crisis in several areas.
The inspectors spoke of psychiatrically ill patients being moved in the middle of the night in some cases to make room for another patient deemed in more serious need.
However, it was clear the patient who was being transferred was not well enough to be discharged to a community facility.
We recently heard of the difficulties recruiting full-time psychiatrists which meant that agency doctors, who are not specialists in mental health, are having to provide cover out-of-hours.
All of this as another national suicide strategy is launched today.
Expect the same lip-service to be paid to the Cinderella of the health service.