April 18, 2021

Overcrowding crisis at Waterford psychiatric unit ‘could see it shut down’

Chronic overcrowding at the crisis-hit Department of Psychiatry at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) could result in the vital facililty being shut down altogether, a local councillor has warned.

Sinn Féin councillor Conor D. McGuinness made the comments following a meeting with representatives of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) in the wake of deepening concerns about patient and staff safety at the unit.

Cllr McGuinness said a lack of resources for community mental health services is to blame for the overcrowding crisis at the psychiatric unit.

“Recent photographs of patients bedding down on floors in the Department of Psychiatry in UHW are shocking but sadly come as no surprise to those who have first hand experience of the unit, or indeed those who have been campaigning for improvements,” said Cllr McGuinness.

“Chronic overcrowding in this unit has become the norm and is putting both patients and staff at risk. It impacts on patient outcomes and denies both service users and workers the dignity and security that they are entitled to. It calls the future of the unit into question as the ongoing issue with overcrowding could see it shut down.
“I met with PNA representatives and attended their rally last week. Its clear to them that the overcrowding issue is not simply about capacity in the unit itself, but stems from the failure by successive Governments to adequately resource community mental health supports and services. A lack of community support and early intervention for people with mental health problems is resulting in increased admission to the unit.”

The Dungarvan-based councillor said the solution to the problem is “not simply more beds”.

He added: “A new approach is required where healthcare is a Government priority, where the early intervention and community services are key, and where the South East is not longer overlooked and ignored. We deserve much better.”

PHOTO CAPATION: David Cullinane TD, Cllr Conor D. McGuinness and Metropolitan Mayor Cllr Breda Brennan at the PNA rally outside UHW last Friday 

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