The closure of a 16 bed sub-acute unit in the St James’s Hospital Psychiatric Unit has sparked concern for the mental health services in West Dublin.
The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) has warned of a growing crisis in the provision of mental health services in the area after it was confirmed that the 16-bed unit will close on Monday due to nursing shortages.
The closure will leave 22 acute admission beds for the entire catchment area.
The closure of the unit comes three months after the closure of 11 beds in Linn Dara Child and Adolescent Mental Health unit, Cherry Orchard, Dublin.
The PNA say the unit play a vitally important role in the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the greater Dublin region.
“These beds were to have re-opened in September, but the PNA now understands that a further seven nurses are due to leave Linn Dara in the coming months which will potentially jeopardise the bed reopening,” said the group.
The PNA said there are also at least 25 vacant posts in the Acute Mental Health Unit in Tallaght Hospital equating to an over 40 per cent vacancy rate.
Peter Hughes , PNA General Secretary said, “it is totally unacceptable that nursing vacancies have been allowed to reduce to such an extent that beds are being closed and vital services are being denied to the communities involved.
“The loss of beds in St James and Linn Dara will have a serious detrimental impact on the delivery of services throughout CH07 area and will put further pressure on remaining services and staff.
“We are witnessing an exodus of nurses and graduates from our mental health services to pursue opportunities abroad and we need an urgent and imaginative response to adequately staff our services.”
“The situations in St James, Tallaght and Linn Dara are symptoms of the wider crisis in the recruitment and retention of psychiatric nurses which is the direct result of failed HSE workforce planning.
“The HSE must now come forward to target solutions and incentives to encourage the recruitment and retention of nurses to adequately staff mental health services, including CAMHS services, nationally. I have requested an urgent meeting with HSE to address these critical developments.”