The closure of acute psychiatric beds in Clonmel six years ago was a mistake and should be reversed according to Minister for State at the Department of Health Jim Daly.
On a visit to Clonmel on Tuesday morning, Minister Daly said the closure of the St. Michael's acute psychiatric unit in 2012 was a "wrong" and he wanted to correct it.
"As time has gone on the mistake has become even more evident. It is my intention to bring an end to this wrong" said Minister Daly.
He told members of the Save our Acute Hospital Services Comittee that he would begin negotiations with the HSE to look at capital funding and how best to go about returning acute psychiatric beds to Clonmel and also Nenagh.
Given the investment in community mental health services those behind the campaign to reverse the decision believe that up to fifteen acute in patient psychiatric beds in both Clonmel and Nenagh would meet the demand that was there.
Minister Daly was informed that the closure of the St. Michael's unit, which was strongly opposed by hospital consultants, TDs and the public at the time, was a disaster for service users and their families.
South Tipperary patients were moved to Kilkenny and Nenagh patients used to Ennis.
Minister Daly was informed of serious problems with St. Luke's in Kilkenny regarding access, overcrowding and transport issues.
Professor Paud O'Regan said closure of St. Michael's was not a good idea. From a patient and family point of view the service was totally unsuitable to be centralised.
Former consultant, Alan Moore who opposed the closure , said there should be no exporting cases to a distant acute centre and people should be cared for in their own locality which would also allow for greater support for users from family and friends. There was a glaring hole in the service without acute psychiatric beds in Clonmel.
Four TDs present Deputies Seamus Healy, Mattie McGrath , Michael Lowry and Jackie Cahill all made a case to Minister Daly for the return of acute psychiatric beds to both Clonmel and Nenagh.
Minister Daly the case was accepted and it had had to be answered. He also informed those in attendance that issues concerning a shortfall in funding for a crisis house, for which planning permission has been granted, at Glenconnor had been resolved and he expected the building to commence in the very near future.
John Hughes, Director of Nursing at Tipperary Mental Health Services said the €2m unit was for psycho/social illness users who did not require an acute unit and he was pleased that this project could now proceed.