An average of 53 involuntary admissions a month to psychiatric hospitals require assistance where it is not considered practical or safe for a doctor or family members to carry out the transfer to hospital themselves.
Psychiatric nurses have expressed concern at HSE plans for the use of private companies to escort ment-ally ill people to psychiatric hospitals.
The outsourced “assisted admissions” service will be called upon when people are made the subject of an involuntary admission order and are expected to resist being brought to hospital.
A private company, Kildare-based Kalbay Ltd, is already carrying out the work in some areas but the HSE has advertised for one or more operators to provide the service in the form of three-person teams on a 24-hour basis nationwide over a three-year contract.
Tender documents show there were 634 assisted admissions to 29 hospitals and units across the country in the 12 months from June 2013 to May this year, carried out by a combination of nursing staff from the facilities involved, gardaí, and the private operator.
The documents state that while the figure is not a guarantee of the level of business a contractor might expect, it is the figure the HSE is using to estimate the annual cost of outsourcing the service. The HSE refused to reveal the cost of the service to date, citing commercial sensitivities.
The Psychiatric Nurses Association, however, said it believed its own members were best placed to carry out assisted admissions and questioned why the HSE had abandoned an agreement on the issue reached with the association 18 months ago.
Spokesman Derek Cunningham said that the PNA “was anxious to re-engage with the HSE”.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved