August 8, 2022

HSE apologises to patients affected by ‘instances’ of overcrowding at Waterford psychiatric unit

The Health Servcies Executive (HSE) has apologised to any patient that has been affected by “instances” of overcapacity in the Department of Psychiatry at University Hospital Waterford (UHW), particularly over the past week.

The HSE said this was due to the unit having to deal with an “unusually high number of involuntary referrals”.

The facility has been at centre of controversy over the past week amid deepening concern over patient treatment and chronic overcrowding. Pictures have also emerged showing patients being forced to sleep on the floor at the crisis-hit unit.

In a statement released by the HSE’s South East Community Health division, they insisted patient care is a priority.

“The Waterford/Wexford mental health service strives at all times to adhere to the rules and regulations relating to the provision of mental health services. SECH continues to work closely with the Mental Health Commission (MHC), to ensure that the Department of Psychiatry acute mental health inpatient facility in Waterford complies with guidelines,” the statement said.

They did acknowledge there can be “instances” of overcapacity at the Department of Psychiatry, adding: “Psychiatric departments are obliged to admit such patients in the interests of their own safety, notwithstanding capacity to do so. Where overcapacity does occur additional measures, including increased staffing and alternative external placement, are applied.”

The HSE said these measures have been deployed “to the fullest extent possible” in recent days.

“In some cases, patients will, unfortunately, need to wait overnight for a bed in the unit. We make every effort to make them as comfortable as possible, including offering patients chairs and blankets,” the statement added.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) have said they are understaffed and under-resourced in Waterford and have called on the HSE to address the issue as a matter of urgency.


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