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Patients placed on chairs and beds in corridors of Waterford psychiatric unit

A 16-year-old patient spent the night in a chair at the adult psychiatric unit last week.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/OverBank

PATIENTS ADMITTED TO a Waterford acute mental health unit are placed on chairs and beds in corridors due to a lack of capacity.

Last week, it was revealed that a 16-year-old girl spent the night in a chair at the adult unit of Waterford Regional Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry as there were no beds available.

According to the Psychiatric Nurses Association, the department has been over capacity 17 times this year, leading to children sometimes being transferred to the adult unit.

Five children have been transferred to the adult unit since the beginning of the year, and some patients have been nursed in interview rooms due to overcrowding.

The HSE have said that a number of factors contribute to the admission of children to adult units.

Some of these include capacity, the complexity of cases, emergency or out-of-hour situations, and increased referrals to Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Once a patient is admitted to the adult unit, if there are no beds free they wait in the corridors until one is made available.

Waterford Regional Hospital’s psychiatry department contains two areas: a sub-acute area with 30 beds, and the acute area which holds 14 beds.

It was recommended that beds in the acute psychiatry unit be reduced from 14 to six by March of this year, a decision Labour leader Brendan Howlin said was ‘unacceptable’.

The hospital is only licensed to care for 44 patients, meaning they could lose their licence for taking in more patients than they’re legally permitted.

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The HSE said yesterday that “On occasion, it is required [that the unit] extend beyond its licence.

“In such circumstances, the Department of Psychiatry is required to comply with all mental health regulations.”

In 2010, St Senan’s Psychiatric Unit, Co Wexford was issued a closure order, meaning acute cases go to the Waterford psychiatry department. The next nearest acute mental health units are in Cork and Kilkenny.

Last year, an independent report by the Mental Health Commission assessed Waterford’s Department of Psychiatry and found that residents’ privacy had not been respected.

The Mental Health Commission is due to publish another report on Waterford Regional Hospital’s psychiatric unit at some point this year.

Read: 16-year-old patient spent the night on a chair at adult psychiatric unit

Read: Residents’ privacy not respected by staff at Waterford hospital

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