Saturday 16 December 2017

Staff crisis puts psychiatric patients at risk of early discharge

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

PATIENTS at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) who are not well are at risk of being discharged too soon because of staff shortages, the facility's medical director warned yesterday.

Dr Harry Kennedy's warning came after Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch called on the HSE to lift its moratorium on recruitment and allow 100 more nurses to be taken on. The Department of Health had sanctioned the hiring of 100 staff but the cash-strapped HSE had to put the recruitment on hold, she added.

The HSE said yesterday that it had received the derogation to hire the extra nurses but got no extra funding.

The minister, along with four other TDs, visited St Brendan's Hospital in Grangegorman, Dublin, yesterday to meet the women who are being controversially transferred to another higher-security ward over Christmas because of staff shortages.

Afterwards she said she was satisfied that they are being very well cared for and are comfortable in their new accommodation.

However, she acknowledged that the move "has been somewhat unsettling for them".

She revealed that two very generous offers from private institutions to accommodate them over the Christmas period had been made.

"However, on balance, it is felt that the disruption in their lives that would be caused by a move outside the hospital would itself be too great, and their interests have been best protected by the arrangements that have been made for them.

"We are all aware that St Brendan's is home to these women and I regret that it was necessary at all to relocate them. However, every effort has genuinely been made to keep the disruption for them to a minimum."

She felt that "too much has been made about the fact that the ward has a locked door policy, as the women will continue to have the freedom to move about on request."

Irish Independent

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