A protest against the closure of 22 acute mental health admission beds at St Brigid’s Hospital, Ballinasloe is to take place at the psychiatric unit, today, Friday, from 4.30pm to 6pm.
The demonstration is being organised by Sinn Féin, with party health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin describing the bed closures as “another backward step”.
“Concerned citizens have contacted Sinn Féin about the HSE decision to close 22 acute mental health admission beds at St Brigid’s Hospital, Ballinasloe. I understand that this downgrading of mental health services in East Galway runs contrary to previous commitments given that St Brigid’s Hospital would not lose beds or services.
“This is another backward step by the HSE which seems to have more to do with book-keeping than the health and safety of patients. Yet €2.8 million over the past two years was spent on upgrading St Brigid’s. Community services are not being put in place.”
He added that the bed closures also run contrary to the commitment in ‘A Vision for Change’ to enhance, not downgrade, mental health services. “This cut should be reversed,” he said.
Sinn Fein is calling for the retention of the 22 acute psychiatric beds at St Brigid’s Hospital.
The Noel McCann Sinn Féin Cumann in Ballinasloe has stressed that the bed cover a large catchment area – Headford to Gort, Portumna to Banagher and South Roscommon –and that they are not in an “old mental hospital environment” but in a “beautifully refurbished unit with highly therapeutic surroundings that far exceed most of the public acute psychiatric facilities available in the whole country at present”.
“In other words, a place where your family member or friend will have a great advantage in their recovery straight away. Over two million euros has already been invested in this admission facility which is now completely hypocritical with the announcement of the closure of these beds,” said a spokesperson.
“This service is vital to our locality and this is obvious from the demand for the services experienced –particularly in the last number of years. The unit’s proximity to a 24 hour A&E department at Portiuncula Hospital underlines the sense in keeping the unit open.
“The HSE West closure of the 22 acute beds is another attack from the FG/Labour Government on the sick and most vulnerable in our town and surrounding areas. The decision to close these acute beds in St Brigid’s is a disgrace and Ministers Reilly and Lynch and the local Government Oireachtas members must take full responsibility for this decision. Ballinasloe Sinn Fein calls on them to reverse it immediately. There needs to be openness and transparency within the Government and HSE on this issue.”