A WEST Cork TD has described the “shock” and “dismay” on hearing the news that Bantry Hospital’s mental health unit will see a reduction in beds, from 18 to 15, following a legal action.
“There is only one acute mental health services unit in the whole of West Cork,” said Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns.
“It is based in Bantry Hospital and it is a lifesaving resource that has helped so many people.”
The Mental Health Commission had asked the HSE to close seven of the unit’s 18 beds due to safety concerns. “As you can imagine, this news shocked and dismayed healthcare staff and the community who know just how badly all 18 beds are needed,” said Ms Cairns.
“On Friday, we learned that a compromise has been reached between the HSE and the Mental Health Commission on this matter.
“The good news is we won’t lose seven beds, but the bad news is we will still lose three. So now there will only be 15 beds to serve the whole of West Cork instead of 18.
“What will now happen to people who need those beds? Are they going to be sent to other acute mental health units which are already overcrowded?
“The people of West Cork rightly value Bantry Hospital because it is an excellent local service — that is its key strength. Transferring patients unnecessar-ily to Cork is in no one’s interest.”
Ms Cairns said the solution “to this issue has always been in the Government’s hands”.
“The unit requires guaranteed multi-annual funding in order to address the safety concerns outlined in the commission’s report,” she said. “I have continually raised this matter in the Dáil and despite being fully aware of what is needed to be done, the Government still failed to include multi-annual funding for mental health in the most recent budget.
“Government inaction, and inaction from the Minister for Health in particular, has led to the loss of three vital mental health beds in West Cork.”