PLANS by the Mental Health Commission to reduce the number of beds in an acute mental health facility in Bantry are being met with resistance.
Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said people who rely on the Centre for Mental Health Care and Recovery – which is located in the grounds of Bantry General Hospital – are deeply concerned about the proposal to reduce capacity there from 18 to 11.
Deputy O’Sullivan said it was following the Mental Health Commission’s annual inspection, earlier this year, that they noted a lack of communal space for residents and the fact that the bedrooms do not provide residents with adequate personal space and privacy.
Currently, the centre can accommodate residents in a mix of single, two, three, and four-bed rooms.
But the Mental Health Commission say this needs to be changed in line with best practice.
But Deputy O’Sullivan said the recommendation has come at a time when there is ‘an increased demand for psychiatric services.’
He said the centre serves a large part of West Cork including Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Dunmanway and Bantry, and the service users, as well as their families, are deeply concerned about what a reduction in capacity could mean. One carer told The Southern Star that his family have relied on the services for many years.
If this service is reduced, or if people are admitted to other services in the city, he said, it would be ‘devastating for, not only my family, but many others.’
The man has written to the Taoiseach Micheál Martin asking him how can he ‘officially open a local injury unit one week and then allow for a mental health unit to be under imminent threat?’
Deputy O’Sullivan said he has spoken with officials and they informed him that the Health Service Executive (HSE) is currently assessing this decision and the options available to them to address it.
He said it is his hope that the facility will ultimately be overhauled and not reduced in capacity.
The TD believes the HSE is considering ‘a schedule of accommodation, through either refurbishment and or extension of the centre, to meet the requirements of regulation.’
Failure to do this would, he said, have a huge impact on the whole of West Cork.
Admitting people to service in Cork would also impinge on services in the city, he added.
A spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare told The Southern Star: ‘We are currently assessing this decision and the options available to address it.’
Deputy O’Sullivan concluded: ‘It’s a no-brainer. The facility needs an overhaul, not reduced capacity.’