The HSE has said it will continue to engage with the country's mental health watchdog over the provision of acute psychiatric services in Bantry, even as both organisations prepare for a court date over bed capacity at the facility.
The Mental Health Commission, which recently inspected the unit in Co. Cork, has recommended a reduction in bed capacity at Bantry’s Centre for Mental Health Care and Recovery from 18 to 11. It wants the HSE to renovate a facility that has been the subject of criticism across a number of MHC inspection reports.
The HSE lodged a district court appeal against the recommendation, with the matter due in court at the end of October.
However, theunderstands that while there has been a focus on the layout at the facility, and concerns over the privacy of people attending the unit, the main concern centres on ligature points.
A source familiar with the Commission's concerns said there have been a number of incidents at the facility in recent times and that the ligature points are something that will be raised as being a major concern in the upcoming report.
It is understood there are concerns over safety levels at the unit as a result, with the building deemed outdated and not fit-for-purpose.
Previous reports have focused on a variety of issues at the Bantry Unit, including the physical infrastructure and it is understood that the Commission will be stressing the need for changes to be affected in a timebound commitment.
When contacted about these concerns, a spokesperson for the HSE said: "We can confirm that we have lodged an appeal in the District Court. As this matter is before the courts, we cannot say anything further.
"However, we will continue to engage with the Mental Health Commission in a positive manner. We wish to make clear our absolute commitment to maintaining and continuing a quality service at the Centre for Mental Health Care and Recovery in Bantry."
Last week, the issues at Bantry were raised in Seanad by Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard. Previously, Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O'Sullivan said: "It’s a no-brainer. The facility needs an overhaul, not reduced capacity.
“Right now, there is increased demand for psychiatric services. We have to focus on the quality of mental Health services in West Cork, but closing beds is not the way to do it.”