Seamus Healy TD
The push for improved mental health services in Tipperary will be further ramped up this week as existing facilicites have been slated as 'not fit for purpose'.
Oireachtas members from the county will meet Junior Health Minister Jim Daly on Wednesdat to press for expanded in-patient and community-based mental health facilities in the county.
Minister Daly has already gone on record to state that the closure of St Michael's psychiatric unit in Clonmel was a mistake.
Independent TD Seamus Healy, who will be one of those meeting Minister Daly, believes there is a 'slight opening of the door' in their dealings with the government and that progress is being made.
“However, it won't be easy and will take time and constant pressure to get back the services that we have lost”, he told The Nationalist this week.
Meanwhile on Thursday night, a public meeting takes place in Clonmel to demand improvement in the county's mental health services.
A new group, Tipperary's Fight for Mental Health Services, has called the meeeting for the Clonmel Park Hotel to demand the restoration of mental health services in Tipperary.
Calling on as many people as possible to attend, a spokesman described it as an opportunity for the people of Tipperary to come out in force and have their say.
"The aim of the meeting is to get facilities reopened that were wrongly closed on us in the first place”, he added.
That's a demand supported by Deputy Healy who said it's vital that South Tipperary mental health services lost to Kilkenny and North Tipp services to Ennis must be restored.
He said - “Kilkenny is a complete disaster”, referring to conditons at the mental health unit in St Luke's Hospital in the city.
“It's very crowded all the time. There are forty four beds there but it's at least six short and staff there have raised their concerns over this.
South Tipperary parients find it very difficult to get in there and there are inappropriately early discharges. Parents also have difficulties visiting their children there”
He claimed that mental health services should be provided locally as they are not high-tech, but involve support and counselling and the ideal situation would be to provide them locally.
Deputy Healy said the mental health services for young people were 'almost non-existent' in Tipperar, both for in-patient and community-based services.
“We were promised the Rolls Royce of community services and we never got them.
“Last week there were three young people in need of psychiatric treatment in the paediatric wards at South Tipperary General Hospital. Before that there were five there, some for as long as eight to nine weeks.”, he remarked.
The Independent TD said it was hoped that confirmation would come soon that a new purpose built Crisis House would get the go-ahead at Glenconnor Road in Clonmel.