Owenacurra centre: Health committee concerns about closure plan 

The Joint Committee on Health has written to the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People to express dissatisfaction and concern that the Owenacurra Centre is to be closed.
Owenacurra centre: Health committee concerns about closure plan 

Last month, a meeting between the HSE and a delegation of the Oireachtas Health Committee took place at the Owenacurra site where the Committee was briefed by the HSE on the necessity to close the centre.

THE Joint Committee on Health has written to the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People to express dissatisfaction and concern that the Owenacurra Centre is to be closed.

The Committee has called on Minister Mary Butler to reverse the decision as a matter of urgency as it said it is “in contravention of the Sharing the Vision policy which seeks to locate mental health services within communities”.

In the letter to Minister Butler, which was seen by The Echo, the Committee said the evidence presented as the rationale for the closure centered around concerns that refurbishment could not bring the building up to the required standard. The Committee, however, is of the opinion that the evidence presented by the HSE “has been unconvincing”.

Speaking to The Echo, Green Party councillor Liam Quaide said he welcomes the recommendation from the Oireachtas Health Committee to reverse the closure of the centre.

“Residents and families have suffered enough over the past nine months since this closure decision was announced.

“They should be relieved now of their prolonged limbo and we should have certainty about the provision of respite and long stay placements in this ideal location.”

The decision to close the centre followed a public hearing on the issue in December 2021.

Last month, a meeting between the HSE and a delegation of the Oireachtas Health Committee took place at the Owenacurra site where the Committee was briefed by the HSE on the necessity to close the centre.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) management informed those present the decision to close the centre remained unchanged.

A CKCH spokesperson said: “The HSE recently briefed members of the Oireachtas Sub-committee on Mental Health on the necessity to close the Owenacurra Centre in Midleton.

“We have engaged on an ongoing basis on this matter with elected representatives, both local councillors and Oireachtas members.

“Given the unacceptable deficiencies in the accommodation, the extensive level of investment required to provide a centre that responds to and meets all of HSE’s client’s needs, the age and construction of the building (i.e.: a Roh-fab building developed in the 1970s), the restricted size of the site, essential systems such as heating, electrics, building fabric etc all beyond end of useful life and the premises falling significantly short of the Governments Climate Action Plan requirements, the decision regarding investment of significant funding into a building which would still not bring the unit up to current acceptable accommodation standards for residents, remains unchanged.

“We remain committed to providing quality mental health services for the population of East Cork and the wider region. We strive to support the principle of maintaining people in their own homes and communities where possible, and bringing the specialist services required as close to the homes and communities as possible.

“We are committed to ensuring that the existing site is used for mental health purposes. As previously indicated, the site will be used in the future for community-based supported living.”

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