Glanmire child psychiatric unit opens

A CHILD and adolescent psychiatric unit closed during the health cuts of the 1980s has been re-opened by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The eight-bed inpatient facility, in the grounds of St Stephen’s Psychiatric Hospital in Glanmire, Cork, is an interim measure until a planned 20-bed unit, under construction in Blackrock, Cork, is ready for use.

The new facility will cater for an age group for whom inpatient psychiatric services are seriously deficient nationwide.

Just 30 inpatient beds exist nationally for children and adolescents up to the age of 18, despite a recommendation in 2006 that the complement be raised to 100 “as a matter of urgency”. The sod was recently turned on a 20-bed unit in Galway.

The recommendation, contained in a Vision for Change, the Government blueprint for development of mental health services, said the units should be provided in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dublin, and staffed by multidisciplinary teams.

The Irish Psychiatric Association welcomed the new Cork facility but spokesperson, psychiatrist Dr Siobhan Barry, questioned its location in the grounds of a psychiatric hospital.

“I would say it could stigmatise the children and it’s a not a very optimistic message to send to them,” Dr Barry said.

She pointed out that two residential units for troubled children are located nearby.

Gleann Alainn is a secure facility for girls who are detained there under court order. There is a second home for troubled youths.

However local health manager Dave Drohan, said the service would be moving to the grounds of the Sacred Heart Convent at Bessboro, Blackrock, next year. He said the children in the psychiatric unit would be well separated geographically from those in the residential units. Mr Drohan said the new inpatient facility would “ensure young people with mental health issues in the region who are referred to the service are given the appropriate care in the appropriate setting”.

Cllr John Gilroy, leader of the Labour Party group in the HSE health forum and a psychiatric nurse, welcomed the extra beds but said it was a “scandal that there were so few beds nationally when there are more than 3,000 children on psychiatric waiting lists”.

While the new unit opened yesterday, it will not be taking referrals for up to two months.


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