Tuesday 18 June 2019

HSE apologises for letter halting referrals to mental health services in north Dublin

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The HSE has been forced to apologise for a letter sent by its primary care section saying referrals of patients with mental health problems to the community health services in a number of north Dublin areas were to be suspended until the later in the year.

The letter which was sent to GPs was posted on Twitter yesterday and said: ” I regret to inform you that due to the high referral numbers the service for primary care mental health has been suspended in Raheny, Donaghmede  Edenmore and Kilbarrack until later this year.”

In a  response the HSE Community Health Organisation (CHO) section in Dublin North City and County said it wished to express their sincere apologies for the incorrect information that issued in this letter.

“It does not represent the factual position,” said a spokeswoman.

CHO Dublin North City and County has confirmed that Community Mental Health Services for Kilbarrack are not affected.

“Clients can continue to be referred directly to the Community Mental Health Team in Kilbarrack by their GP.”

She said :”This letter related to a service provided by a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Primary Care (funded by Dublin North Mental Health Service).

“Her role is to assess, triage and accept appropriate referrals of patients presenting at GP (Primary Care) with mild-moderate depression.

“This service is an Early Intervention service for patients and can lead to prevention in requiring Specialist Secondary Mental Health Service or referrals to the Community Mental Health Team.

“Any member of the public or GP who received this letter will be contacted during Monday and Tuesday of next week to ensure that they are provided with correct information and an appropriate referral pathway.”

Earlier Cllr Michael O'Brien of Solidary called on the  to clarify the authenticity or otherwise of letter indicating withdrawal of primary care mental health services from Donaghmede, Raheny, Edenmore and Kilbarrack.

"First and foremost the HSE must confirm the authenticity or otherwise of this letter. If it is some class of hoax it is a very dangerous one as it could serve to discourage people in mental distress or their families from seeking help in these communities that I represent.

"If it is authentic then it is an absolute scandal but unfortunately will not come as a great surprise to people in the area as the lived experience in Dublin 5 and I suspect elsewhere is that timely mental health assistance for people in distress is more the exception than the rule.

"The tone of the letter, and we do not know if it is an internal memo or addressed to a member of the public, is in keeping with the health austerity message emanating from the new Chief Executive of the HSE.

"Mental health remains a poor relation within the overall delivery of public health services in this state. Whatever the authenticity of this letter this will not change under the Fine Gael government which is content to pay lip service to mental health services."

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