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The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) has today, Thursday 4 th May, expressed deep concern at the admission of a 16 year old child to the adult Acute Mental Health Unit (AMHU )at Waterford Regional Hospital (WRH) last week where they spent  the night on a chair.

The PNA said staff at the AMHU was extremely concerned at the incident which is completely unacceptable.

PNA Industrial Relations Officer, Michael Hayes said:

‘Not only was this child admitted to an adult unit, but there was not even a bed available and the child spent the night on a chair. No child should be put in this situation. This incident highlights at the most extreme the crisis in staffing, beds and community services in mental health services in the South East.'

‘Unfortunately this is not an isolated event. Since January the unit has been over capacity on 17 occasions. This has led to patients being nursed in interview rooms. The service is licensed by the Mental Health Commission to operate a 44 bed unit but this number has increased to 48 on several occasions this year.'

There are currently approximately 20 nursing staff vacancies in the service.  The Mental Health Commission is due to report on the Waterford unit on May 15th. Previous MHC inspection reviews found critical levels of noncompliance in the unit.  There is no Child and Adolescent Mental Health Beds, no Community Mental Health services as envisaged under Vision for Change , or Day Hospital facilities available in the Waterford mental health services.

Mr Hayes added: ‘The current crisis in mental health services in the SE cannot be allowed to continue.  PNA is demanding that the HSE put the resources and staffing in place that will guarantee a comprehensive mental health service that meets the needs of the Waterford region.'

Media contact: Derek Cunningham 086-2430535