The HSE has confirmed plans to close the psychiatric unit at St Joseph’s District Hospital in Ballina this year, according to local Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary.
Deputy Calleary has described it as a ‘dark day’ for mental health services in north Mayo. “These damaging cuts were confirmed in the HSE West Service Plan published on Friday.
This plan has been fully approved by the Minister for Health James Reilly, so the Government has given the go ahead for the removal of this vital local service,” said Deputy Calleary. “This unit has ten nurses attached and is currently serving 60 people. It is an excellent facility that provides 24-hour nursing care to individuals with chronic mental illness. Day care services will remain, but in-patient beds including 5 respite care beds will be shut. “To remove this vital in-patient care from Ballina, one of the largest towns in the west of Ireland, will drastically reduce the mental health services available to communities in north Mayo. There is doubt that patients will suffer as a result of these cuts. The acute unit in St. Teresa’s is already under enough stress, and this policy will put it under even more pressure. “I am relieved to see that Teach Aisling in Castlebar is being kept open as the result of pressure put on the Government by me and members of the community. This excellent facility had been earmarked for closure and I appealed in the Dáil to the Health Minister James Reilly and Minister of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch to keep it open. I am glad that they have now decided to keep it open. “It is a pity that the Government didn’t also see sense in relation to St Joseph’s in Ballina. I will continue to put pressure on the HSE and the Minister for Health to reconsider these dangerous cuts that will have long-term implications for communities in north Mayo,” said Deputy Calleary.