Meeting hears psychiatric patients 'being used' to promote agenda

Tuesday 25 June 2013 22.48
The forum debated a motion calling for a safe facility to cater for the needs of long-term involuntary psychiatric patients
The forum debated a motion calling for a safe facility to cater for the needs of long-term involuntary psychiatric patients

The HSE West's Regional Director of Operations has claimed some psychiatric patients are "being used" to promote certain views in relation to the provision of mental health services.

John Hennessy said it was regrettable that some patients were being "influenced by persons with a particular agenda to bring their stories into the public domain".

Speaking at a Regional Health Forum meeting, he said it was unfortunate and unfair that patients were being used in this manner.

His comments came as forum members debated a motion calling for a safe facility to cater for the needs of long-term involuntary psychiatric patients.

Fine Gael Councillor Laurence Fallon said a serious problem was emerging at the psychiatric unit at Roscommon County Hospital.

Cllr Fallon said staff were under enormous pressure and that patients were in fear of other patients at the unit.

He said there was a huge divergence of opinion between staff and management as to how the service was operating.

He called for a thorough review of psychiatric services in the area.

Mr Hennessy said arrangements are under way to put a facility in place to cater for more challenging patients in the short term.

He said this would involve refurbishing facilities in one existing location. This will be completed by the end of the year.

Mr Hennessy agreed there were differences between staff and management regarding service provision.

He said there had been some resistance when staff were asked to change how they worked and where they worked.

Mr Hennessy said he was satisfied there were enough staff to cater for the needs of people in the area.

He said relocation of staff was integral to the operation of a modern mental health service.

Forum members approved the motion.

Forum discusses Halappanavar report

The chairperson of the HSE West's Regional Health Forum has said the clinical review into the death of Savita Halappanavar was a "damning indictment" on Galway University Hospital.

Councillor Pádraig Conneely was speaking at the first meeting of the forum since the report was published two weeks ago.

He said the hospital mismanaged treatment of the 31-year-old from the moment she was admitted last October.

Cllr Conneely asked whether any staff members would be sanctioned as a result.

Chief Operating Officer for the Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group Tony Canavan said there had been full co-operation with all investigations into the circumstances surrounding Mrs Halappanavar's death.

He said the hospital would continue to work with any regulatory body involved in the process.

Cllr Conneely also asked why the position of Group Clinical Director was not a full-time role, given the responsibilities it entailed.

The hospital's CEO, Bill Maher, said Dr Patrick Nash was an outstanding clinician and an outstanding clinical director.

He told the forum that it was national policy that consultants holding the role of clinical director were not appointed on a full-time basis.

This is because they take the role for a two-year period and then revert solely to their consultancy roles.