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Monday 11 December 2017

Teen (18) rescued from river by garda, then turned away from busy hospital

Women spent hours in garda station after being turned away from hospital

University College Hospital in Galway
University College Hospital in Galway
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A teenager who was rescued from the River Corrib by an off-duty garda after trying to take her own life was refused admission to hospital.

The teenager (18) was rescued from the River Corrib in Galway by an off-duty garda and a member of the public in February.

She was taken by ambulance to University College Hospital in Galway (UCHG) where a nurse allegedly refused to admit her because she was "intoxicated and wouldn't co-operate".

As a result, the off-duty garda brought her to the garda station at Mill Street and kept her there for her own safety until her father arrived to pick her up.

Independent councillor James Charity told Independent.ie that the incident was "appalling" and "shocking".

"The young woman has been troubled for some time and had been engaging with mental health services. It wasn't the first time she experienced suicidal thoughts.

"An off-duty garda and a member of the public jumped into the water at the Wolfe Tone Bridge and saved her. She was very distressed and had taken tablets before she jumped into the river."

An ambulance was called but the young woman never made it into the hospital.

"A nurse came out and assessed her in the ambulance and said she couldn't admit her because she was intoxicated.

"The off-duty garda was left to deal with her and brought her to the garda station on Mill Street. She was kept for her own safety until her father collected her hours later.

"It's not up to gardai to help save mental health patients, it's up to the health system. An-off duty garda and a member of the public risked their lives jumping in to save her and the health services just turned her away. It's appaling."

Mr Charity said that the father then tried to get his daughter admitted to hospital again as she told him she still wanted to take her own life.

"He drove to A&E and begged with the staff to admit her. He said he had tears streaming down his face and was pleading for his daughter's life. They refused and she was sent home without being assessed by a doctor."

Mr Charity said that the father was forced to lock his daughter into her room and and monitor her himself.

"She's doing a bit better now but she still hasn't come around from it."

The Independent councillor said that the lack of mental health services in Galway and Roscommon area is "criminal" and "shocking".

"It's not an isolated problem, it's an ongoing issue here in the area."

Another local Independent councillor, Tim Broderick, told Independent.ie that he also faced a similar case earlier this month.

"A man in the area tried to die by suicide on May 5 and he was also sent away from UCHG.

"He was treated for his wounds and was then sent home. The hospital did nothing to help his mental state."

Mr Broderick said that the man's family were told to bring him to the Darkness into Light event that was taking place the following morning on May 6.

"That was the best they could do."

Mr Broderick echoed concerns that there aren't enough services available in the area to help people who are suffering with mental health issues.

"Three years ago the St Brigid's mental health facility in Ballinasloe was closed and 22 beds were closed without being replaced.

"The Government hasn't put the resources into mental health and it is costing lives.

"On Monday May 8, in the psych ward at UCGH there were 54 patients and only 45 beds."

Mr Broderick described mental health services in Galway and Roscommon as "frightening and criminal".

Independent.ie have contacted University College Hospital Galway for a comment.

If you have been affected by issues raised in this article please contact the Samaritans in confidence on 116 123.

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