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In April 2014 at its ADC, the PNA raised the concerns of Psychiatric Nurses in Carlow, Kilkenny, and South Tipperary Mental Health Services regarding the numbers of suicides which had occurred over the previous 14 months of persons under the care of that service.

Today's (Wednesday, 22 nd July) Report of the Mental Health Commission on death and governance issues in mental health services in Carlow/Kilkenny and South Tipperary area between 2012 and 2014 vindicates the PNA in its assertions and sets out recommendations to address some of the concerns raised.

Commenting on the MHC Report , PNA General Secretary, Des Kavanagh said : ‘'This Report substantially validates the concerns PNA raised at the time and puts in place recommendations to prevent a recurrence. The HSE must learn lessons from this Report, that cuts in nursing numbers hurt patients, premature discharges hurt patients and failure to listen to front line staff hurts patients.'

‘In 2014, I told the PNA ADC that the high level of suicides in these areas suggested a system failure. The MHC Report sadly confirms such a failure with insufficient training for risk assessment; clinical governance undermined as a result of a lack of cohesion ;“deep disharmony” between senior management and medical consultants undermining clinical governance; “non-engagement” by some consultants in the region ; understaffing; a heavy reliance on agency workers and poor communications among the problems identified within the services.'

Mr Kavanagh said that while PNA welcome the Report there are a number of questions that arise from its recommendations which remain to be answered.

  1. The MHC Report recommends an end to patients being transferred to the DOP in Waterford and to the Crisis House to create room for new admissions. When will this practice stop?
  2. The transfer of patients to other services has happened when the Unit is full and persons in crisis are seeking admission . Will these patients now be turned away? What plan is now in place to ensure the safety of such persons?
  3. What reporting system will be in place to trace those turned away and denied admission and record subsequent outcomes?
  4. Have the HSE undertaken to protect members of Home Based Treatment Teams from re-deployment in future, to any other part of the service?
  5. Is there a target date for full implementation of the Recommendations?''

‘The PNA continues to believe that the prevalence of suicides in this service was anomalous and far exceeded what would have been the norm when acute services were provided separately in each county. The PNA welcomes the Recommendations in relation to the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in South Tipperary as demanded by the PNA in correspondence to HSE managers in March, May and July 2014.'

Media Contacts : Derek Cunningham 086-2430535