A Tipperary deputation to the Department of Health today called on the minister to restore inpatient psychiatric beds to Clonmel that were lost following the controversial closure of St. Michael's Psychiatric unit five years ago.
The beds were transferred to Kilkenny and Ennis from the St. Michael's Unit on the South Tipperary General Hospital campus - a move that the Tipp delegation described as mistaken.
Following the meeting, Jim Daly, Minister with Responsibility for Mental Health Service, agreed to travel to Tipperary to visit the services at first hand.
The deputation from the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee met Minister Daly in Government Buildings.
The deputation, consisting of Dr. Alan Moore, Consultant Psychiatrist, Ms. Mary Ryan, Carer and Mr. Joe Leahy, C-Saw, was accompanied by Deputies Seamus Healy, Michael Lowry, Mattie McGrath and Jackie Cahill.
There was a positive and wide ranging discussion on all aspects of the Mental Health Services in County Tipperary including the voluntary sector, community based services and inpatient services.
The deputation focused in particular on the need to return inpatient beds to County Tipperary from Kilkenny and Ennis following the closure of St. Michael’s Acute inpatient unit at South Tipperary General Hospital in 2012.
A very strong case was made by the deputation for the re-opening of inpatient beds in Clonmel given the serious difficulties at the Ennis and Kilkenny units.
These include, serious overcrowding, difficulty in securing Tipperary admissions, early and inappropriate discharges and transport problems for patients, family members and staff.
The deputation outlined both interim and longer term options for inpatient psychiatric beds at Tipperary University Hospital (South Tipperary General Hospital). These included a new 20 bed unit as part of the overall hospital development plan and then use of the new 10 bed crisis house, currently in planning, on an interim basis.
There was a general acceptance that the closure of St. Michaels Unit was mistaken, the inpatient services now at Ennis and Kilkenny, have not worked, and that inpatient beds in Co. Tipperary were desirable.
The Minister agreed to visit the services in Tipperary, to consider the options outlined by the deputation and to continue the dialogue with the Hospital Committee.
The deputation thanked the Minister for the meeting and for his open and forthright engagement on the issues raised.