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'Totally unacceptable': Two people spend night on chairs in mental health unit

The Psychiatric Nurses Association has said the situation is intolerable for patients and upsetting for staff.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/toeytoey

THE PSYCHIATRIC NURSES Association (PNA) has said the fact two adults admitted to the mental health unit at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) on Tuesday had to spend the night on chairs is “totally unacceptable”.

The PNA said the situation “highlights once again the lack of adequate community mental health services in the southeast”.

Peter Hughes, the PNA’s General Secretary, said accommodating patients on chairs because of the lack of beds is intolerable for patients and their families and upsetting for staff.

“Following an incident in May when a child spent a night on a chair at the Waterford AMHU (adult mental health unit), the PNA got a number of assurances from management that these situations would not be repeated. However, on Tuesday two adults had to spend the night on chairs as there were no beds to admit them to.

Once again the appalling lack of investment in community mental health services is having consequences for both staff and service users at this unit which has been over capacity on nearly 20 occasions since January. Our message to management is clear – this has got to stop.

Hughes said it was “somewhat ironic” that the incident in UHW happened on Tuesday, the day Budget 2018 was announced.

“The government and Minister of State Jim Daly announced spending of €35 million in mental health services.

“It is already disputed whether this announced figure includes a carry-over of €20 million from the 2017 mental health budget, but what is clear is that there must be significant investment in community services if overcrowding as experienced in UHW is to be properly addressed,” Hughes stated.

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