Improved mental health services needed to reduce A&E admissions, says expert

A mental health expert says the policy of admitting psychiatric patients to emergency departments needs to be "looked at".

The statement comes after Fianna Fáil's mental health spokesperson Colm Keaveney claimed that staff at the psychiatric unit in University Hospital Galway have asked the Health and Safety Authority to examine patient safety concerns at the facility.

The HSA says it is aware of concerns at the unit, and is engaging with staff.

The news comes after Professor Shane O'Neill's resignation as Beaumont Hospital's clinical director over the issue of assessment of psychiatric patients in the emergency department.

Siobhan Barry, clinical director of the Cluain Mhuire Service, says community centres should be the focus for mental health services, and not acute hospitals.

"I think we do need to look at that specific problem in as much as the necessity to present to emergency departments is reduced when community services are sufficiently developed that people don't need to go to emergency departments," she said.

"And that hasn't happened."

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