Saturday 7 December 2019

Psychiatric unit upgrade urgently needed

Cllr Jackser Owens
Cllr Jackser Owens

Brendan Keane

A member of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council has called for immediate action to be taken to address serious ongoing issues at the psychiatric unit in University Hospital Waterford.

The matter came to national prominence over the last couple of weeks when photos emerged of people in the unit sleeping on the floor and on chairs because of a lack of adequate beds.

However, Cllr Jackser Owens first raised concern about conditions at the unit a couple of months ago after he visited a close family friend in the unit.

Speaking to this newspaper on Friday about the matter he again raised concern over not enough being done at Government level to alleviate the problem.

'I saw it first hand when I was down there to visit a close a family friend on three occasions,' he said.

'If there is no bed available people are given a chair and a duvet,' he added.

Cllr Owens emphasised that the staff are doing 'the best job they possibly can' under very difficult circumstances and instead said the blame is with the Government.

'That there are no beds available for the most vulnerable of people is an absolute disgrace,' he said.

He criticised the fact 'the country can host the Vice-President of America coming here' but doesn't have enough beds for a psychiatric unit.

'I am calling on Ministers Paul Kehoe and Michael D'Arcy to bring Minister Simon Harris down there so that he can see for himself, first-hand, the conditions,' said Cllr Owens.

In contrast he said conditions in St John's Hospital in Enniscorthy are excellent, where people go for respite.

However, with regard to the Waterford psychiatric unit, he said: 'I spoke to one lady down there who had a hip replacement and she had to sleep on the floor and that's just not acceptable.'

'It has to be upgraded fully,' he added.

Enniscorthy Guardian