COUNCILLORS have passed a motion calling on the HSE to fully investigate overcrowding in the Psychiatric Unit in University Hospital Waterford (UHW) after images emerged of patients sleeping on the floor.
The motion, which was unanimously passed by Wexford County Council, expressed “dismay” at the conditions, overcrowding and treatment of patients at the Psychiatric Unit of UHW and calls on the Minister for Health to apologise to the front-line staff, patients and their families for the conditions.
The council has also demanded that the HSE conduct a full investigation and to make resources available in the region.
“Nobody can stand over the conditions”
Chair of Wexford County Council Michael Sheehan said the HSE must now allocate more funds and resources to South East region to ensure a similar situation does not happen again at UHW.
“Those pictures should be a once-off, if this situation persists at some point in the future there will be a fatality, this could spiral out of control.
“Nobody can stand over the conditions,” he said, adding that many people could be treated in their own locality if more supports are directed into community facilities.
Wexford County Council will now write to the HSE and Health Minister Simon Harris demanding action.
The Minister has to put his hand up and say sorry, the system has failed and we cannot continue to fail some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“the reality is that demand often exceeds supply”
The county council’s motion also demanded that “age-appropriate” accommodation and beds are provided to make sure minors are not admitted to adult psychiatric wards.
After pictures were published in the Irish Examiner showing people lying on floors and across chairs in the unit earlier this month, chief officer with South East Community
Healthcare Kate Killeen-White said she could not defend the situation in Waterford.
Reacting to the images she said that “the reality is that demand often exceeds supply” for the services in the region and acknowledged the situation “is not ideal and is not acceptable”.
The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said there were 54 patients in the 44-bed unit the time.