Senator Maura Hopkins has released a statement clarifying her position on Roscommon Mental Health Services and has called on the HSE to clarify their future intentions for services.
The statement reads as follows:
I have been very clear in my position in relation to Mental Health Services in County Roscommon. I have restated exactly as I have been told by Tony Canavan, Chief Health Officer of Community Services within the HSE and Minister for Mental Health, Helen McEntee both in spoken word and writing. I have been concerned and continue to be concerned about ensuring that the people who use mental health services and their families along with staff members in Roscommon are provided with the facts and the truth regarding current and future provision of services.
It is important that all public representatives work together in the interests of the people using the mental health services and their families along with staff.
I have been working extremely hard to establish the facts as the people I have listened to over the past number of weeks have been very clear and definite in their view that the HSE are implementing a different agenda on the ground to that which they publicly state. What is clear is that the statements from the HSE and the experiences of people within the mental health services do not match up. The stories are different and there is a definite disconnect. I am concerned and I feel it is very important that the facts are established as quickly as possible.
I have spoken at length with Minister for Mental Health, Helen McEntee and Tony Canavan, Chief Officer of Community Services who advised me that the HSE have no active plans to close the various day centres and hostels referenced in local media namely Ballaghaderreen, Boyle, Strokestown, Castlerea, Athleague . Both of them also informed me that the HSE have no plans to close the Community Nursing Unit in Áras Naomh Chaolain or to relocate residents to private nursing homes. I have been advised that the HSE are currently consulting with residents, families and staff in relation to the transfer of a small number of residents from one location namely Knockroe House in Castlerea to more appropriate settings. This information was also provided by the HSE to myself and a number of other public representatives in writing.
The problem is that there is an obvious difference between what is being said by people on the ground and the HSE. I have discussed all of my concerns related to this issue with Minister for Mental Health, Helen McEntee. I have told Minister McEntee that people are very concerned and that the HSE must urgently tell us what exactly is the situation and what is the plan for services. This is an operational matter for the HSE and must be prioritised and acted upon without delay.
I have also strongly emphasised to her the importance of finalising and making available the external report into mental health services within the county as quickly as possible. I do expect this report to identify areas within the mental health service which require change and identify clear actions that will bring about improvement in services for the benefit of the people who use them.
I want to be very clear, if there are plans to change services in terms of hostels and day care centres, we absolutely need to fully understand the reason for the changes, the benefit of these changes and why they will be better for people than what we currently have. If changes to services are implemented, they must be designed to deliver a more positive and improved service for people.
For us to know that the best possible mental health service is being provided, the HSE must tell us exactly what is being planned if anything? Why change is necessary? What benefit will it have for the people using the service? What are the timelines? How is it going to be managed and staffed? Is there adequate funding? Does it provide for the unique needs of people living in rural areas?
Having worked as an occupational therapist within community mental health services, I know above all else that people who use the service and their families must have confidence in it. Our mental health service must provide an environment of safety, support, structure and certainty. People must be helped to regain control over their lives and enjoy a good quality of life. I am absolutely determined to work with the Minister Harris, Minister McEntee and the HSE to ensure that this issue be dealt with in order to support people in the best way possible.