Sending children and adults with mental illness abroad a scandal – Senator Rónán Mullen

Independent Senator and European election candidate Senator Ronan Mullen has expressed grave concern over the fact that 12 children and 8 adults are currently receiving psychiatric treatment outside of Ireland.

 

The HSE should be required to explain whether everything possible was done to enable those patients to receive their treatment in Ireland, Mr Mullen said.

 

“It costs an average of €13,000 per month for every child and adult receiving treatment outside of Ireland.  Earlier this year, the HSE told us that its 22-bed unit at St. Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe had to be closed so that resources could be applied for other care services.  It is appalling that after spending approximately €2.9 million euros of taxpayers money on refurbishing St. Brigid’s Hospital, the last patient was discharged on 27th March”

 

“I am simply baffled as to how it can be cost-effective to pay over €3.1 million per year to private health care providers in other countries to care for our vulnerable children and

adults, while at the same time closing down newly-refurbished state of the art facilities at home.”

 

He continued:

 

“There are more than economic costs to consider here. We have to look at the human cost of sending children and adults to other countries for treatment and separating them from their families, sometimes for very long periods of time. These are basic human rights issues for the Government to consider here.”

 

Senator Mullen received the information about the extent and cost of treatments abroad after submitting questions to the Mental Health Service Division of the HSE.

 

“It is scandalous that we are closing top facilities in Ireland, and in particular admissions units situated in therapeutic locations like St. Brigid’s while at the same time sending people out of the country for treatment. We are training doctors and nurses who are much sought after around the world for their skills and expertise, and it is a nonsense for the HSE to suggest that Irish people cannot be treated by skilled Irish clinicians on Irish soil,” Senator Mullen said.

 

Senator Mullen is calling for the Minister for Health, James Reilly, to urgently address this matter.