Community groups lose challenge to closure of hospital psychiatric unit27/04/2012 - 16:22:34
The High Court has today dismissed a challenge brought by two community group to the HSE's planned closure of an in-patient psychiatric unit at South Tipperary General Hospital, with the patients being transferred to Kilkenny.
The groups, Save our Acute Hospital Services Limited and the Cashel Action Committee, sued the Minister for Health, the State and HSE aimed at preventing closure of the 29-bed St Michael's acute psychiatric in-patient unit at the Clonmel based hospital.
They claimed the proposed closure and transfer breached a 1996 agreement, signed by the then Minister for Health Michael Noonan, providing for acute hospital services for South Tipperary to be located in Clonmel.
In his judgment today the President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said after considering all the evidence in the case he was satisfied the defendants were not bound under the 1996 agreement to keep the unit open, and dismissed the proceedings.
The groups, set up by local people to protect hospital services in South Tipperary, brought the action after it was announced patient admissions to the unit were to cease and the unit would be closed by the end of last month with patients transferred to St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny.
The groups further claimed the move would cause irreparable harm and hardship to patients, their families and those working in the local mental health services.
Some of the most vulnerable people in society would be effected, it was submitted.
The HSE denied breaching the 1996 agreement and claimed the closure is part of the government's 'A Vision for Change' programme aimed at a more community-based mental health service, which the court heard were already being established in South Tipperary.
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