Review of Mental Health Services Must Be Patient-Focused – Connaughton

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Patients must be at the centre of a review of the provision of mental health services in counties Galway and Roscommon, according to Deputy Paul Connaughton, speaking during a Topical Issues debate in the Dáil on Thursday evening.

Deputy Connaughton raised the issue of Toghermore House in Tuam during the Topical Issues debate. Speaking following the debate, Deputy Connaughton said, ‘The review which is currently underway needs to be patient-focused and include proper representation for patients and their families. Any consultant psychiatrist involved in Toghermore House needs to be involved in this review and be given an opportunity to actively participate.

‘We need to draw a line under this issue and secure the future of Toghermore House and make sure that patients are at the centre of any decision made and that all patients are given due consideration.’

During the debate, Deputy Connaughton outlined the recent history in relation to the house, including the fact that HSE West looked to close the residential part of the facility on foot of what they said were fire safety issues. He also pointed to the spending of €1.4 million on the unit and quoted Minister Kathleen Lynch during a visit to the facility.  He asked when will work currently underway on the house will be complete, how long will it take and how much it will cost.

Responding to the issue on behalf of the Minister for Health, Minister of State Sean Sherlock said that a local steering group met to address the issues and this included patient representatives and this group has liaised with families and will continue to liaise with families. He outlined changes that have taken place at Toghermore House until such time as the remedial works are carried out, including a complete ban on smoking around the residential structure, hourly fire checks and the fact that the HSE is installing a fire alarm system. Minister Sherlock said that the make-up of the expert group now charged with conducting a review of mental health services in counties Galway and Roscommon is currently being finalised by the HSE West Area Manager, who expects that the review will be completed in 12 weeks.

Responding, Deputy Connaughton expressed his disappointment that Ministers Reilly and Lynch were not present for the debate and said that he wants to see the Minister taking a hands-on approach and added that the Government cannot have a situation where they spend €1.4 million upgrading a facility and then two years later another review of services is carried out.’

Deputy Connaughton also vowed to continue to work on the issue to ensure a satisfactory resolution for both patients and families of all mental health services in counties Galway and Roscommon.