A PROTEST TOOK place at St Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe tonight over the removal of beds from its psychiatric unit.
The HSE confirmed that there was “disruption” in the grounds of the unit, but that “patients continued to be cared for in a safe manner”.
RTÉ reports that there were 150 people protesting at St Brigid’s Hospital tonight, and that negotiations took place over the removal of beds which had been taken out of the hospital and placed on a trailer.
It reports that no further effort to remove beds from the hospital will take place tonight.
Mental health services
The reconfiguration of mental health services is currently taking place in Galway and Roscommon, and according to the HSE, from 17 February of this year the acute unit was approved by the mental health commission to operate a maximum of 12 beds.
A protest took place last September against HSE plans to remove the 22 acute psychiatric admission beds from St Brigid’s Hospital.
The acute unit in Galway University has increased its capacity to 40 beds since 17 February, which the HSE says results “in a zero reduction of beds in the service”.
This evening, Fianna Fáil local representative Anne Rabbitte told TheJournal.ie that she was told that at 5.30pm this evening the attempt to remove the beds began.
She said that last night, after the Fine Gael convention, “reassurances were given to the East Galway Mental Health Action Group that there would be no taking down of beds before tomorrow”.
The East Galway Mental Health Action Group said tonight on its Facebook page that “they’re taking away more of our beds right now” and asked people to join the 100 people who were already there.
The Seanad is due to vote on a motion relating to the closure of the psychiatric unit tomorrow.
Rabbitte said she believed that the objective of the protest tonight would have been to prevent the beds from being removed.
Rabbitte said that four people took their own lives in Galway over the weekend, “the eldest being 33 years of age – and we are closing psychiatric beds”.
While she added that there is no indication these people would have used the beds at St Brigid’s, she said: “We are not addressing our mental health issues and I would have a huge issue with that, particularly in rural Ireland”.
Rabbitte said she would be hopeful that Senators will vote tomorrow to keep St Brigid’s open and make sure a review of the service takes place.