News Health

Friday 21 July 2017

Children discharged from staff-hit mental health unit 'only for clinical reasons' - Minister

Helen McEntee
Helen McEntee
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Children who are being discharged from a mental health centre which is suffering a staffing shortage are being allowed home for clinical reasons only, Mental Health Minister Helen McEntee said today.

She was speaking amid concerns at the closure of 11 of the 22 beds at Linn Dara Child and Adolescent Centre in Cherry Orchard, Dublin over failure to recruit nurses.

She said: “Over the past few weeks, as patients were discharged from Linn Dara for clinical reasons, the beds were not refilled, due to staff shortages.

“This has left Linn Dara with just half of its 22 beds currently occupied.”

Speaking following a visit to the state-of-the-art 22 bed unit today the Minister said: “Unfortunately there are significant staffing difficulties at the Linn Dara facility.

“I am in regular contact with the HSE in relation to the difficulties and I can assure people that intensive efforts are underway to maintain services at Linn Dara.

“The core issue facing the facility at present relates specifically to staff recruitment difficulties for mental health professionals, which unfortunately reflects wider health system recruitment and retention issues.

“I would like to stress that the problem facing Linn Dara does not relate to funding availability.”

She added that she would like to “assure people that any discharges from Linn Dara are clinical decisions and are planned discharges.

“Nobody is being discharged in order to allow a bed to be closed.

“The situation is that unfortunately, due to staffing difficulties, the HSE are unable to reallocate some beds when the patient is discharged.

“However, intensive efforts are underway to increase staffing and allow more beds to be re-allocated.”

She said the HSE is currently actively engaged in a recruitment process in fact a number of staff are confirmed to join the service in the near future.

“The HSE are exploring every option to try to ensure this excellent service remains fully operational. Staffing cover is currently being provided through methods such as staff working additional hours, overtime and agency staff. I would also like to reassure people that any beds forced to close temporarily will be reopened as soon as the staff are available.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to appeal to psychiatric nurses to consider coming to work in Linn Dara and I would appeal to the Psychiatric Nurses Association to do all they can to encourage their members to help us deal with these staffing difficulties.”

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