Blow to Kildare's mental health services as Lakeview upgrade delayed

Design team disbanded as project scope expands significantly

Conor McHugh

Reporter:

Conor McHugh

Email:

conor@leinsterleader.ie

Blow to Kildare's mental health services as Lakeview upgrade delayed

Lakeview Unit at Naas General Hospital: built to serve much smaller population

A team working to develop a new mental health unit at Naas General Hospital has been disbanded.

Though the reason given by the Department of Health for the disbandment is “a significant expansion of project scope and associated increases in project value,” the news is being seen as a further and disappointing delay to the building of a new mental health unit in Naas.

Two years ago, €5.5million was allocated to the project.

The news of the disbandment was revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question on the Dáil from Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin. She was told that a new design team is anticipated to be appointed by April.

The HSE has not responded to a query seeking clarity into the decision. There was no explanation forthcoming for the change of scope or an increase in project value that caused the project team to be disbanded.

It is now more than two years since the Government allocated €5.5 million to Lakeview Acute Mental Health Unit in Naas. While initial discussions on the project involved a refurbishment, a decision had been made to deliver an additional eight beds and a high observation unit to alleviate service pressures at the facility.

Chairperson of local mental health organisation Hope(D) Terri Thorpe said she was very disappointed at the news of a delay. She emphasised that investment in Lakeview is very badly needed in order to have people in distress treated empathetically and respectfully. And she echoed calls for a separate A&E at Lakeview.

“With all due respect to the nurses who work in the A&E, they’re under immense pressure, and the ailment isn’t all that visible when it’s a mental health situation. Very often patients get tired waiting and come back over to us in Hope(D),” she said.

The Newbridge-based charity, which had its AGM last night (Monday, February 11), has seen an increased number of people attending its services over the past two years.

“By the end of 2017 we had 106 people come through our doors,” Ms Thorpe explained. “However at the end of 2018, we had seen 248 people and 25% of them were adolescents.”

And of the 248, between 30 and 50 of them had carried through from the previous year.

Deputy O’Loughlin noted that “Lakeview Unit in Naas Hospital was built in the 1980s when the population of Kildare West Wicklow was 138,000.

“It now serves a population of close to 242,000 and does not have the infrastructure to cater for that population size. Infrastructure needs to be improved and a standalone mental health unit is urgently needed.

“This new delay in the development of a new unit is very worrying for those who avail of the mental health services provided by Naas General Hospital. The community health care area in which Lakeview is based has the lowest number of mental health in-patient beds in Ireland at 19.6 per 100,000.”