About 150 people staged a protest at St Brigid's Hospital, Ballinasloe in Co Galway over the removal of acute psychiatric beds.

Five beds, which had been taken out of the hospital, and placed on a trailer were later removed after negotiations between the Health Service Executive, gardai and protesters.

It is understood an agreement has been reached that no further effort will be made to remove beds from the hospital tonight.

The HSE last month began the process of reducing acute bed numbers at the hospital by 22.

In a statement tonight, the HSE said that "despite the disruption in the grounds of the unit, patients continue to be cared for in a safe manner".

The executive said that phase two of the implementation plan for the reconfiguration of mental health services in the Galway/Roscommon area is under way.

The closure of all acute inpatient psychiatric beds at St Brigid's was first announced last summer, following a review.

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.

The HSE said the acute unit at Galway University Hospital has increased its capacity to 40 beds since yesterday.