The first phase of the closure process of 22 acute psychiatric beds at St Brigid's Hospital in Ballinasloe, Co Galway is under way.

Five inpatient beds are being transferred to Galway University Hospital.

When complete, acute services for the region will be provided at GUH and at Roscommon County Hospital.

Opponents of the closure are critical of a points system which favoured the facility in Roscommon ahead of that in Ballinasloe.

East Galway consultant psychiatrist Dr Margaret O'Grady said the decision was "clinically flawed".

She said she has no issue with the decision to focus on community care services but said the scoring system used to put Roscommon ahead of Ballinasloe for acute services was not understandable.

Calls for an independent review of the Health Service Executive's decision have been rejected by the Department of Health.

In a statement this afternoon, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch reiterated her support for the move.

She said she was confident that the decision was correct and that there was no basis for any further review.

The minister said she is confident the HSE implementation group to oversee the initiative is taking into account the concerns of "all relevant stakeholders".

The closure of all acute inpatient psychiatric beds at St Brigid's was first announced last summer, following a review in the Galway/Roscommon area.

At the time, the HSE said resources needed to be "re-shaped and focused on community based care" to implement the Vision for Change plan.

It said community mental health teams are being developed and strengthened to provide care and treatment nearer to service users' homes.

All patients who require acute inpatient facilities will be able to access them in GUH or at Roscommon County Hospital.

Several demonstrations have been held to protest against the decision in recent months. The East Galway Mental Health Action Group has said it will continue its campaign.