Call for mental health hospital facing closure to be replaced

AN urgent call has been made for the building of alternative facilities to replace a Victorian psychiatric hospital, due for closure in Kerry.

The Mental Health Commission, in its 2009 report, has already called for the closure of St Finan’s Hospital, Killarney, in line with a Government report on the future of the mental health services.

Cormac Williams, local branch organiser of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), has hit out at what he described as recent adverse publicity about the hospital and the cost of heating the sprawling old building, without enough consideration being given to the need for new care facilities.

Despite many promises by various ministers and the Department of Health, no monies had been allocated to build any of the three replacement facilities, he said.

Mr Williams has written to Kerry’s six TDs asking them to make representations to Health Minister Mary Harney. “The PNA is aware that €50m is currently available for capital investments in the mental health services, which remains unspent by the Government,” he said.

Under the broad strategic plan in the Vision for Change document three replacement care facilities are recommended to allow St Finan’s to close. The facilities would include: a 25-bed older persons/challenging behaviour unit, a 15-bed intensive care secure unit and a 10-bed community mental health residence.

The HSE has submitted plans and costings to the Government for approval.

St Finan’s Hospital has been in the process of closure for several years and the property is in a premier location. But Mr Williams insisted it should not be sold until alternative mental health facilities are provided.

“As well as benefiting the Kerry mental health service, the investment required to build the projects would bring a much needed boost to the local economy at a time of high unemployment and low economic activity,” he stated.


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