The HSE has promised local politicians that there will be proper consultation with people availing of mental health services in County Roscommon going forward.
The HSE made the pledge at a meeting last Friday which followed several weeks of controversy over whether or not day care centres and hostels in the county are under threat of closure and/or amalgamation.
Issuing a press statement this week, Senator Maura Hopkins said that it had been agreed at Friday’s meeting that there would be proper consultation with service-users and that every service-user will be offered the option of allowing a family member to advocate on their behalf, or to have an independent advocate and that nobody will be forced out of their current accommodation.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Tony Ward, the Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, says he is satisfied that no service-user will have to leave a mental health facility in Roscommon against their will.
At Friday’s meeting, held in Roscommon town, Tony Canavan, the HSE’s Chief Health Officer of Community Services, sought to address the concerns raised by service-users, their families, staff and public representatives.
Cllr. Ward said that Mr. Canavan indicated that he had been completely taken aback by recent developments.
“What I took from what was a very constructive meeting was the sense that some HSE middle-management people had gone on a solo run on this issue. Mr. Canavan assured us that no service-user will have to leave a facility without wanting to…everyone will be consulted and cases will be taken on a case by case basis. In other words, any change (in circumstances for a service-user) will be by agreement.”
Senator Maura Hopkins said that she had made it very clear to Mr. Canavan that people within the mental health services are “very clear and definite in their view that the HSE are implementing a different agenda on the ground to that which was publicly stated by the HSE.”
Outlining how the HSE had now given pledges on improving consultation and not forced any service-user out of their current accommodation, Senator Hopkins said that it was also acknowledged by Tony Canavan that some service-users will continue to require high levels of support.
Stating that people who are using mental health services need immediate reassurance following this controversy, Senator Hopkins said the HSE must work hard now to build trust and confidence among service-users, their families and staff.
Cllr. Ward said that the HSE now accepts that there had been little or no proper consultation on this issue.
“For example, Roscommon’s representatives on the HSE (West) Forum – myself and Cllrs. Paddy Kilduff and Michael Creaton – were kept in the dark. The manner in which this was handled was totally unacceptable. I am satisfied with the assurances I have received from Mr. Canavan.”