Protest at closure of acute psychiatric unit in Ballinasloe

Up to 2,000 people attended a protest in Ballinasloe yesterday (Sunday 15th September) to demonstrate against the planned closure of an inpatient psychiatric unit at St Brigid’s Hospital. The state of the art unit was completed in 2012 and contains 22 acute service beds. IMPACT’s Padraig Mulligan, who is chair of the East Galway Mental Health Action group, said that the HSE is closing down services before community based back up services are in place.

“We’re here today because the service user has been forgotten. They have no voice, we’re here as their voice. We need to send a clear message that closure of 22 beds without services to assist those who need them in the community is unacceptable. The community teams are not in place, if you take out the beds there is nothing” he said.

The protest was supported by local hospital staff, including nurses, doctors and GPs from the community. The HSE has said that the 22 acute beds in St Brigid’s Hospital will close by the end of the year and that enhanced community services will replace the unit.

However, protesters yesterday expressed their concern that the closure appears to be taking place without any supports being made available in the community. Padraig added, “Rather than a vision for change, it is a vision to take money out of the service at all costs without putting any of the back up terms in place. Our members who work in the services tell us that, from a clinical governance stance, this leaves the patients vulnerable. That’s why IMPACT members are supporting this protest” he said.

You can listen to a report HERE by Valerie Cox on RTE Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke’ (first broadcast Monday 16th September) featuring IMPACT assistant general secretary Padraig Mulligan.