'Urgent action' needed on Waterford psychiatry department
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne and TD for Waterford Mary Butler met with Minister Jim Daly to call for an action plan to be put in place to address chronic overcrowding issues at the Department of Psychiatry at University Hospital Waterford.
The dire situation at the unit was thrown into the spotlight last month after photos emerged of patients sleeping on chairs and on the floor of the Department.
Deputy Browne said: “The reports from UHW are absolutely damning. Not only is the treatment of patients there unsafe, it is inhumane. Let me be absolutely clear about this – the overcrowding crisis is not the fault of the staff working at the unit, it is down to the abject failure of Fine Gael to effectively operate our health service.
“Myself and Deputy Butler met with the Minister with responsibility for Mental Health to find out how he plans to deal with this ongoing issue. The photos that emerged in recent weeks do not represent isolated incidents; the Mental Health Commission has also expressed serious concerns about compliance in the unit.
“Following extensive lobbying by my party and health organisations, Minister Daly has finally conceded that there is a need for additional beds and capacity – up to 20 - in the Waterford/Wexford region. However, the fact that he has admitted that these will not be achieved in the short-term is further evidence of a failure by Fine Gael to plan for our communities’ mental health needs or to take our mental health crisis seriously."
Deputy Butler added, “Since coming to office, Minister Daly has not once visited the Psychiatric Department at UHW. However, I have received a commitment from him that he will come to the unit to see first-hand the conditions there. While I welcome this promise, I am not overly confident that his party have the will to follow through and make the changes needed to bring this unit up to standard.
“Promising to discuss a corrective plan with the HSE does not go far enough. The time for talking about a plan has long passed, urgent action is needed.
“I have met and spoken with 3 residents who were in the unit this year and they all confirmed that overcrowding with patients sleeping on the floor is an ongoing issue and was not unique to the Bank Holiday weekend.
“Staff have also been raising concerns about overcrowding for almost two years but neither Minister Daly or Harris have taken the necessary steps to address any of the issues which have arisen. The situation has gone beyond unacceptable but yet again Fine Gael has chosen to abdicate responsibility."