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Friday 13 December 2019

HSE warned against moving 'distressed' patients from home

Caroline Crawford

A CLINICAL report has warned against moving patients from a HSE mental health facility that is set to close.

The confidential report written by a consultant psychiatrist said it was not feasible to move patients at Toghermore House in Tuam, Co Galway.

It added that they had become "unstable and distressed" as a result of the proposed relocating.

After reviewing alternative accommodations proposed by the HSE, the psychiatrist warned that the patients should remain where they were.

"It is not feasible to relocate the Toghermore residents to these hostels due to their high dependency needs. Many have unrelenting, complex mental illness refractory to treatment and rehabilitation. Their clinical needs are being met in their current accommodation. Talk of relocating these vulnerable patients has caused them to become unstable and distressed," reads the report, which was seen by the Irish Independent.

Despite the concerns highlighted, the HSE has insisted it will go ahead with the move.

The report included recommendations for the 16 patients to remain at the Toghermore facility while refurbishment works were carried out to rectify fire and safety issues.

"The sector team conclude patients should remain in Toghermore residence and the downstairs facilities be used as dormitories while remedial works are carried out to install fire safety measures. The patients remained in the house during refurbishment recently without problems," it added.

The report also highlighted a case where a patient who was moved from the hostels to an apartment took their own life.

"This patient had been stable for years in our low support facility. Most of the hostel residents have poor coping skills and clinical risk is a concern if they are relocated," it stated.


Local Labour TD Colm Keaveney said he was horrified that the HSE was still pressing ahead with the move despite the findings of the report. He demanded that his Labour colleague, Kathleen Lynch, address the matter immediately.

"Is the minister even aware of this report in respect to the risk assessment of vulnerable people? The HSE had this in their possession since Wednesday but no mention has been made. This is a human rights issue.

"The minister's silence on this is unacceptable. We have a clinical document highlighting the risk of these decisions that seem to be made by accountants. It's not sustainable that the minister would continue to ignore this issue," he added.

Catherine Cunningham, area manager with the HSE, conceded that the report did not call for the closure of the home. She revealed that the HSE opted to go ahead with the move after receiving a preliminary costing for the repair works. It found that the works would cost in the region of €360,000.

Irish Independent

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