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Staff vacancies behind the decision to close 11 beds at Dublin CAMHS unit

Taoiseach Micheál Martin says the situation at Linn Dara is regrettable.

Taoiseach says decision was taken due to patient safety issues due to staff shortages.
Taoiseach says decision was taken due to patient safety issues due to staff shortages.

11 BEDS HAVE closed at the Linn Dara Unit for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Dublin due to staff vacancies, according the the Minister of State for Mental Health Mary Butler.

The issue was raised in the Dáil today after Sinn Féin’s Mental Health spokesperson Mark Ward said over the weekend that the closures “will create nothing short of a crisis for child and adolescent services in the Dublin region”.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the situation was “regrettable”.

Due to a number of nursing posts becoming vacant simultaneously, a decision was taken on the basis of patient safety, he explained.

Linn Dara has 24 beds and 51 funded posts at the facility, however 24 staff posts are vacant and need to be replaced at present, Butler told the Dáil today.

“So from a patient safety perspective, the facility has been working between 60% to 70% capacity for the last few months,” she said.

The minister said she has been aware that there has been challenges in recent months.

She said every effort has been made to fill vacancies.

The Taoiseach said the HSE explored all options before taking the decision to close beds, such as redeploying staff from other CAMHS community teams, but there were concerns about impacting other teams around the country.

“Unfortunately the issue around staffing is the reason why the beds have been closed”, said Butler.

Speaking about the children that are awaiting admission to the facility, Butler said that four young people waiting admittance, two are in hospital, while the other two children are receiving community supports.

The Taoiseach said funding and resourcing is not an issue, adding that work is intensifying in a bid to hire people with specialist skills for the unit.

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Seven beds at Linn Dara are for children with eating disorders, with Martin telling the Dáíl that no child was discharged early in order to the falling staff numbers.

At the end of March 2022, no child under the age of 18 has been admitted to an adult mental health unit, said the Taoiseach.

This is down 2021 figures, in which 25 children were admitted to adult units, while 50 were admitted to such facilities in 2019.

“We do not want to see that happening in our mental health services,” he said.

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