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Galway psychiatric unit "an accident waiting to happen"

TD Denis Naughten hit out at James Reilly today but the Health Minister said problems outlined in a recent audit are already being addressed.
Jul 9th 2014, 10:41 PM 13,263 10

Source: Denis Naughten/YouTube

INDEPENDENT TD DENIS Naughten has said the psychiatric unit at University Hospital Galway is “an accident waiting to happen”.

Addressing Health Minister James Reilly in the Dáil earlier, Naughten said an internal audit of the unit points out that staff had not completed required training in fire safety and that a fifth of staff did not comply with mandatory training in aggression and violence.

The reports states that this is because of a recent “cost containment”. The audit also highlights the fact that not all members of staff had a personal panic alarm in cases of emergency and this lack of availability extended to visiting health professionals.

The conditions in the facility itself were also criticised in the report which noted the removal of a bed from a room with a leak and a water mark close to electrical connections.

Naughten told the Dáil:

A number of beds have been moved over the last six months due to the on-going problem with the leaking roof. One of these beds is in the women’s ward and it is known as the bed with a bucket. Patients use towels and sheets on the floor to soak up the water rather than have to listen to the continuous drip, drip, drip into a bucket. If that were happening in Guantanamo Bay it would not be acceptable, yet it is happening in an acute psychiatric unit in this country.

“Having read the report in its entirety, I believe that the lack of adequate staff protection against aggression, combined with the condition of the building and the reports of patient boredom in what is an acute psychiatric unit, is a recipe for a very serious incident,” he said.

In response, Minister Reilly said the HSE “is proceeding to modernise and reform mental health services right across the HSE and HSE West, including the Galway/Roscommon area”.

He said the HSE has indicated that since a change in the number of beds in February, the occupancy level has never been exceeded and that staffing levels are assessed on an ongoing basis to ensure “the safest possible services at all times”.

Reilly added that improvements are underway to “relevant aspects of staff training”.

He said it would not be acceptable that a leak would go unfixed and “have patients in that scenario” and told the TD that he would look into this.

Read: More than 3,000 young people are waiting for mental health referrals>

Read: HSE doubles amount of admission officers for mental health patients>

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Michelle Hennessy

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