'Tsunami of Failure' | 

Mental health service ‘beyond crisis’ as 16 beds close in St James’s psychiatric unit

It will leave just 22 acute admission beds in the entire catchment area from Monday.

St James's Hospital. Photo: Mark Condren

Dublin City Councillor Máire Devine

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

The closure of 16 beds in the psychiatric unit at St James’s Hospital has been described as “deeply shocking” by Dublin City Councillor Máire Devine.

It will leave just 22 acute admission beds in the entire catchment area from Monday.

Speaking to the Sunday World, Cllr Devine said that she was “gobsmacked” by the shocking news.

The Sinn Féin politician has been a practicing psychiatric nurse for decades and sits on the hospital’s board.

“This is staggering - a deeply shocking blow to the vital St James’s Hospital psychiatric services,” she said.

“[Ireland's mental health service] is so fragile; it’s falling down around us. To get that news today was shocking.

Dublin City Councillor Máire Devine

“We know with CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) – the waiting lists are just ginormous... They can’t get psychiatrists; they can’t get nursing staff. It’s a service that is in crisis. It’s beyond a crisis. The tsunami of failure is just hitting us in the face day after day.”

Cllr Devine said that there needs to be a revision in “terms and conditions of training and placement” to deal with the lack of nurses in the country.

“The recruitment and retention efforts have failed miserably which in turn has seriously compromised the upholding of our duty of care.

“I have asked that this be a priority discussion at next week’s meeting of the Board of St James’s Hospital and at the HSE Forum.

“I’m going to ask the Chief Nursing Officer, Rachel Kenna, where is she in the recruitment and retention of nurses because it’s not happening.

“You go and you interview every student nurse that’s finishing next month and 90pc of them are leaving. Who in their right mind would want to stay?

“If we had more placements, we’d get more in to train but also how do we keep them? They go to better terms and conditions, to less chaos in other countries in other hospitals in the private sector.

“Nurses are the backbone of the health service, and we need more of them,” she added.

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