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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 23 December, 2014

Determined campaigners continue call for independent review of psychiatric unit closure

The 22-bed unit is due to be closed, with the acute unit in Galway increasing its capacity.

FILE: A protest against the closure of the acute unit last September.
FILE: A protest against the closure of the acute unit last September.
Image: Shane Leonard

CAMPAIGNERS AGAINST THE removal of acute beds from St Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe, Co Galway are calling for an independent review of the situation.

The Galway East Mental Health Action group held a demonstration yesterday outside Leinster House against the changes at a Ballinasloe psychiatric unit.

On Tuesday night, a large amount of protesters went to the grounds of St Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe to try and prevent the removal of five beds from its psychiatric unit.

Last September, the HSE said it planned to remove the 22 acute psychiatric admission beds from St Brigid’s Hospital, a move which led to protests.

Review

A motion that was aimed at saving the 22-bed unit from closure was defeated in the Seanad last night, but the campaigners are undeterred.

They are now calling once again for an independent review of the decision to close the unit, with one campaigner telling TheJournal.ie that they will abide by whatever this independent review decides.

The East Galway Mental Health Action Group said on their Facebook page that their chairperson said:

We haven’t gone away you know. One set back never stopped a community who know the value of standing by people with mental illness. We can always count on each other. Let know [sic] one think this is over. It will only be over when we say its over and that will be when we get our independent review.

One campaigner, whose child is in the care of the HSE’s mental health services in the East Galway region, said that almost €3m was spent on improving the Ballinasloe unit and “the unit they are now closing is the most modern piece of infrastructure they have. They said they are going to take 22 beds and move them to Roscommon. How 22 patients could [fit] in there is a mystery”.

The person said they have concerns about the Galway facility, which has increasing its capacity to 40 beds.

They added that moving from a new facility to an old facility is in “direct contravention” to the HSE’s Vision for Change document.

The East Galway Mental Health Action Group and Galway East Life Support Group are to continue campaigning against the closure of the acute unit, and are working on their plans for future demonstrations.

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.

Read: Protest held at Ballinasloe psychiatric unit over removal of beds>

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