More than three months after junior mental health minister Kathleen Lynch agreed to meet with a delegation of service users from St. Michael’s Acute Psychiatric Unit in Clonmel, a date has finally been set. Following on from a successful public meeting held in early December in Clonmel which attracted up to 100 service users, their carers, family members and supporters of the retention of acute psychiatric beds in South Tipperary, the minister announced this week that she will meet with a deputation in Leinster House on January 17 at 3.30pm.
Confirmation of the meeting has been welcomed by members of the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee (SOAHSC) who have been requesting a date for the meeting since September 15 and who were fearful that the meeting would not happen before March 2012, when Minister Lynch says the acute unit will close with the transfer of beds to St. Luke’s in Kilkenny. If this plan proceeds, the Kilkenny hospital will become the new acute psychiatric unit for South Tipperary, Kilkenny and Carlow.
Chairperson of SOAHSC and Independent TD Seamus Healy said that they are delighted that the meeting has been confirmed and added that it was a positive result, on the back of the successful public meeting where service users bravely spoke out about their fears if acute beds are removed to Kilkenny and gave their support to the retention of the service in South Tipperary. At that meeting, also attended by consultant psychiatrists in South Tipperary, GP and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) representatives, 19 service users and their families volunteered to attend a meeting with Minister Lynch if and when it arose.
“We have been looking for this meeting since last September so this is a result, and it is because of the initiative that service users and the hospital committee took to organise that public meeting,” said Deputy Healy.
“We are delighted that we finally got this meeting and that the service users’ voices will be heard finally and we will be making the point to Minister Lynch that the people she is meeting are the real representatives of the service users of St. Michael’s.”
South East regional secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, John Hughes, said that he was also looking forward to ‘the true delegation of service users’ from St. Michael’s being given the chance to speak to Minister Lynch.