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INO Calls On HSE South To Immediately Revoke Plans To Close Heatherside Hospital, Buttevant. 27/01/09

The HSE (South) has announced the unilateral closure of Heatherside Hospital, Buttevant, an elderly care facility for mental health patients, on Monday, February 2nd,  and the relocation of patients and staff  to St Stephen’s Hospital, Glanmire, which is a psychiatric hospital over forty miles away from their current care setting.

This morning, members of the Irish Nurses Organisation at Heatherside Hospital are genuinely fearful for the well-being of their client group of 43 elderly clients with enduring mental illness, many of whom have been cared for at the hospital for over 50 years. INO members, in the context of this decision, are now asking the HSE the following questions:

  • Why clients, currently treated by a Psychiatrist, are having their psychiatric assessments ignored by the HSE in the economic decision to close Heatherside?
  • Why the HSE cannot find the €800,000 for improvements when they spent €250,000 on kitchen repairs last year at Heatherside?
  • Why the HSE believes that compulsory removal of clients from their homes is in the patients’ interests?
  • Why the HSE continues to deny these clients the protection of the Mental Health Act 2001 which would facilitate maximum protection and rights of appeal.

The HSE has not given patients or staff a choice on this move. Instead they have decided to close the facility, which will be 100 years old in April 2009, on the basis of a one-sided judgement, by the HSE, in the absence of expert inspection/examination by the relevant authorities.

Wide reaching recommendations, in the Inspector of Mental Hospitals Report of 2007 against maintaining elderly care clients on the second floor of Block 10, St. Stephen’s Hospital, have been ignored.  Block10/11 does not have a lift while currently the clients are cared for in a one story building at Heatherside which is on a six acre site.

The Organisation has raised this issue with the Mental Health Commission, the Inspector of Mental Hospitals, Advocacy groups (Mental Health) and public representatives.

Speaking earlier today, Patsy Doyle, Industrial Relations Officer, said:

“INO members are satisfied that care to their clients is of the highest standard at Heatherside.  The Organisation has sought an urgent inspection of St. Stephen’s Hospital and Heatherside Hospital to recommend on safety and human rights issues.

Notwithstanding the very difficult economic situation, facing the HSE, the INO would argue we cannot lower standards or impose change on people which we sincerely believe will be detrimental to their health and well being.

Most of the clients have been discharged previously from psychiatric hospitals and it is unfair, illegal and disrespectful to force them back in a mental health campus at this stage of their lives.

INO members are, above all, concerned at the potential for their clients to become exposed to “relocation stress syndrome” and are advocating on their behalf. The clients deserve to be supported and cared for in familiar surroundings during their elder years. 

We strongly oppose this reckless disregard for the patients’ human and civil rights and we call upon the HSE (South) to halt the move before clients’ well-being is threatened further.”

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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie