Hundreds of people have taken part in a protest in Clonmel calling for a restoration of full mental health services in south Tipperary.

Campaigners are calling for a reopening of acute psychiatric beds which were closed when Saint Michael's unit in the town closed in 2012.

Campaigners have said all south Tipperary patients must now go to Kilkenny and all north Tipperary patients have to go to Ennis for inpatient treatment.

They also claim that these units are continually overcrowded, which results in delayed admissions, inappropriate early discharges and a substandard service.

The HSE has defended its provision of mental health services in the region.

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It has said the 44 bed Department of Psychiatry acute mental health unit at St Luke's hospital in Kilkenny serves the Carlow/Kilkenny and south Tipperary catchment area, and it serves the needs of all those who require treatment and support.

The HSE has said that other significant changes have taken place since 2012 in the area with a shift in the model of care from the old long-stay institutions to the development of a comprehensive community based service.

These include two new day hospitals having been set up in Clonmel and Cashel with joint multi-disciplinary assessments now taking place in the Acute Day Services; Haywood Lodge, a purpose built residential 40 bed community nursing unit in Clonmel, which became operational in April 2012; Garryshane House, a 12 bed High Support Hostel in Clonmel, opened in July 2012; and continuing development of mental health services at south Tipperary General Hospital.