Thursday 17 August 2017

Girl (16) seeking mental health treatment spent night on a chair at adult psychiatric unit

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A 16-year-old girl was left to sleep on a chair at an adult psychiatric unit after she was admitted to the hospital for mental health treatment.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) expressed deep concern at the admission of the teenager to the adult Acute Mental Health Unit (AMHU) at Waterford Regional Hospital (WRH) last week.

The PNA said staff at the AMHU was extremely concerned at the incident which is completely unacceptable.

PNA Industrial Relations Officer, Michael Hayes said that no child should ever be put in that situation.

"Not only was this child admitted to an adult unit, but there was not even a bed available and the child spent the night on a chair. No child should be put in this situation. This incident highlights at the most extreme the crisis in staffing, beds and community services in mental health services in the South East.

"Unfortunately this is not an isolated event. Since January the unit has been over capacity on 17 occasions. This has led to patients being nursed in interview rooms. The service is licensed by the Mental Health Commission to operate a 44 bed unit but this number has increased to 48 on several occasions this year."

The PNA said that there are currently approximately 20 nursing staff vacancies in the service. 

The Mental Health Commission (MHC) is due to report on the Waterford unit on May 15.

Previous MHC inspection reviews found critical levels of noncompliance in the unit. There is no Child and Adolescent Mental Health Beds, no Community Mental Health services as envisaged under Vision for Change, or Day Hospital facilities available in the Waterford mental health services.

Mr Hayes added: "The current crisis in mental health services in the SE cannot be allowed to continue.  PNA is demanding that the HSE put the resources and staffing in place that will guarantee a comprehensive mental health service that meets the needs of the Waterford region."

In a statement, the HSE said it does not comment on individual cases but is happy to do so with patients/service users directly and/or their families.

"The Dept. of Psychiatry (DoP) acute mental health facility on the grounds of University Hospital Waterford is an approved centre. On occasion, it is required to extend beyond its licence. In such circumstances, the DoP is required to comply with all mental health regulations.

"A number of factors contribute to the admission of children to adult units, including increased referrals to Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), community CAMHS capacity, change in clinical need/complexity of cases, emergency and out of hours CAMHS services, geographical considerations, increase in referrals for admission, increase in admissions and clinical needs profile of children presenting for admission."

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