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13th Apr 2023

30 mental health beds for children and adolescents shut over the last year

“This is 30 beds less than this time last year.”

Almost 30 beds in mental health units for children and adolescents have been shut over the last year as nurses continue to emigrate from Ireland.

General secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), Peter Hughes, told its annual conference that over the past year, there has been a reduction in mental health services for children and adolescents despite the Maskey Report in January 2022 and the Mental Health Commission report.

“In effect we have 42 operational beds nationally which is less than 50pc of the 100 beds recommended in Vision for Change,” he said, according to The Irish Independent.

“This is 30 beds less than this time last year.”

He added that due to the nursing shortages in mental health services and the decline of nurses since the Covid pandemic due to emigration and retirement, the situation has been impacted at all levels.

“The impacts of shortages are apparent daily throughout the services and the message to the Government is clear. It is inexcusable that nursing vacancies have been allowed to increase to such an extent that beds are being closed and vital services are being denied to communities across the country,” he added.

Hughes added that he was again demanding that Stephen Donnelly and the Department of Health, as well as the HSE, establish workforce planning groups at both CHO level and nationally to urgently address the recruitment crisis.

Hughes noted that the closure of inpatient beds faces many issues when it comes to the increase in need for CAMHS services.

Waiting lists have now almost doubled over the last two and a half years since the Covid pandemic began, with 2,112 in July 2020 and 3,937 in November 2022.

The reduction in the number of beds available will now impact the already lengthy waiting list.

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