It is costing over €400,000 a year to provide security for a single patient at a psychiatric unit in Co Clare.
The middle-aged man has been in long-term care at the Acute Psychiatric Unit in Ennis and requires round-the-clock security.
Yesterday, the HSE confirmed that two security officers provided security 24 hours per day over the 365 days of 2013 to ensure the safety of the patient and staff at the Ennis unit. The cost amounted to €408,351.78.
“It’s unbelievable, just unbelievable,” said Clare councillor Tom McNamara. He queried the cost after he became aware of the circumstances surrounding the patient.
He has been a patient at the unit for over a decade and is being cared for in an isolation area. There are 38 patients in total at the unit and Mr McNamara said he understood that the special security arrangements for the patient had been in place for the last three to four years.
“This is not about the patient himself who is very unwell. But the cost would pay for half the nursing requirements for the residential unit for Alzheimer’s patients in Ennis which we have been trying to get open for the last number of years. Two individuals are standing over this patient 24 hours a day and the situation has been going on for the last three to four years.”
He added: “This man is inappropriately placed. I’ve no doubt about that. He should be in an intensive psychiatric care unit and we were supposed to have four of these to cater for such patients in the country under Planning for the Future.
“But €408,000 is an awful cost. How can anyone stand over that?”
The regional director of performance and integration for HSE West, Gerry O’Neill, said yesterday that he took on board Mr McNamara’s point about the cost. “But I am not going to exchange views over an individual patient,” he said.
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