September 28, 2023

Kilkenny psychiatric services hit by overcrowding crisis in Waterford

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) has said that overcrowding in the Waterford mental health services has reached unprecedented levels and is now affecting services in Kilkenny.

The PNA recorded 54 patients in the 44-bed unit earlier this week. Another three patients transferred to the department of psychiatry in St Luke’s General Hospital – which is now full. A further seven patients transferred to St Patrick’s private Mental Health unit in Dublin.

Earlier today the Irish Examiner published photographs from inside the Waterford unit, showing patients bedding down on the floor, such is the overcrowding issue.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Kate Killeen White, Chief Officer with the South East Community Health Care, the group that manages the unit, acknowledged the situation in the department of psychiatry in Waterford is not ideal.

“It is not acceptable.

“I wish to apologise to any patient, to any family member, or indeed any staff member, who has been impacted by this situation. I cannot defend the situation presenting in Waterford.

“There are currently 47 patients in the unit. The department is doing all it can to provide safe care to those individuals and patients who are awaiting the bed.”

“In Waterford, it’s acknowledged we have vacancies right throughout our health system, but we do endeavour to ensure rosters are filled at all times and there is safe staffing levels in the department of psychiatry.”

Earlier this week, a statement released by the PNA spoke of the “intolerable pressure” and the “intolerable distress” both the patients and staff, in the unit, have to deal with. Ms Killeen White acknowledged the demand often exceeds supply.

“When we are over occupied, we try to implement alternative measures to alleviate the pressure – inclusive of increasing staffing levels in the unit, to ensure there are safe services provided to individuals.

“It’s not ideal. It’s not the way we want to deliver services, but often demand exceeds supply, yet we are still required to deliver services.

“We notify the Mental Health Commission when we are over-occupied. We do implement alternative measures inclusive of accessing bed capacity in other public units and in private units,” Ms Killeen White said.


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