Louth TD pleads for help from Minister to support people at risk of suicide

Peter Fitzpatrick TD

The Argus

Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick called for politicians and their staff to be given support and training so that they can help constituents who are in distress and at risk of taking their own lives.

Speaking on motion on targeted investment in the health service in the Dáil last week, the Dundalk-based Independent TD, described a busy day in his office last Monday, May 15.

“I thought I was going in for a normal day in my busy constituency office, but it was not a normal day. On four different occasions people came into my office and threatened to commit suicide”.

“The first person who came into my office got a lethal injection last week and was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. The staff kept him alive. The second person was walking the streets, had no accommodation and wanted to jump off the bridge. The third person was a lady who was going to be evicted and had nowhere to go. She wanted to commit suicide. The last person was there due to a family dispute. Two brothers did not get on together and one of them was put out of the house. He was sleeping in a graveyard. People found him there. He wanted to commit suicide”.

“Louth County Council does a fantastic job, but its staff cannot look after medical issues. I plead with the Minister. Does he think it is right for people to sleep in graveyards, in parks or on the streets?

“When people come into my constituency office, they think I can give them a house or put them in a hostel”.

He said in the twelve years that he has been a TD, he has never seen things as bad.

“We need the Minister’s Government to help these people. I have the phone numbers and contact details of the four people and I will work closely with the Minister, but my staff are finding it nearly impossible to deal with these people.

”We need help, we need training and so on. Please help us”, urged Deputy Fitzpatrick.

Earlier in his contribution to the motion, Deputy Fitzpatrick called for the return of services to Louth County Hospital, which he believed has unmet potential.

“Louth County Hospital has been doing remarkable work in terms of day cases over the last few years, but there’s much more that it can provide given the experience of staff who are there; the facility is probably being underutilised at the moment”.

He said that it was ten years since the Louth’s A&E and public walk-in services were closed following budgetary cuts, but a hospital was needed due to the increased population.

"The Dundalk area is one of the fastest growing in the country, but also currently the second largest town of itself in the entire country. The population in the larger catchment area is only going to grow, so action needs to be taken now.”

“I fought for Louth County Hospital and reaffirm that the closing of key capacity, within a time of capacity crisis, will not be accepted. Urgent action and funding needs to be allocated to the acute services in counties Louth and Meath.

He said no one in this region wants to see what is happening in University Hospital Limerick happen here. “There is a strong role for smaller hospitals in which they can provide more services, not less.”

“The reopening of Louth County Hospital should seriously be considered. The treatment of stable medical patients who meet the agreed clinical criteria in hospitals closer to their homes, such as the model 2 hospitals, is aimed at reducing ED wait times and releasing ambulances more quickly. However, MAUs and LIUs are only open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

If the Government was serious about implementing Sláinte Care and providing better services locally, they needed to upgrade the Louth County Hospital. “There is infrastructure and capacity available immediately in Louth County Hospital which would alleviate the pressures put on our other hospital in Louth, namely, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.