Fianna Fáil Senator for Carlow, Jennifer Murnane O’Connor, has said that staffing and resource issues must be urgently addressed in psychiatric units across the country in light of a recent case in Kilkenny.
Appalling conditions at the Department of Psychiatry were outlined during a court hearing in Kilkenny on Monday.
The case was the first of its kind taken by the Mental Health Commission against the HSE under the Mental Health Act.
Senator Murnane O’Connor said: "This case raises very serious issues about the standard of care being delivered in our mental health services.
"The conditions in St Luke’s were nothing short of abhorrent. The patients and families at the centre of this case have been badly failed by the health service and it is yet another indictment of just how broken the system is.
"While it must be acknowledged that over €1 million has been spent on bringing the unit up to standard since the initial inspections, the fact that it was allowed to descend to such a low standard is disgraceful.
"Patients in Kilkenny and Carlow deserve so much better. The Government cannot continue to pay lip service to mental health issues without following up with tangible and targeted services."
She added: "Waiting lists for mental health services are completely unacceptable, staffing levels set out under ‘A Vision for Change’ are well behind target, and now we have a service pleading guilty to a series of charges under the Mental Health Act.
"The case must act as a wake-up call for this Government.
"We cannot continue to allow people with mental health problems languish on waiting lists or be subjected to neglectful practices.
"The conditions outlined in court raise very serious concerns about the state of our mental health services and their ability to cope with the demands placed on them."
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