Mental Health Care 'In Crisis'

The Irish Republic's care of mental health patients has come in for fresh criticism as it emerged today that riot police are regularly drafted in to deal with an upsurge of violence in psychiatric hospitals.

On top of news of an overall 20% increase in suicides, up from 424 in 2008 to 527 last year, this is putting mental-health services under severe pressure.

A disturbing new report has this week revealed that hundreds of psychiatric nurses have been forced to retire because of growing violence, stress and staff cuts.

The situation has become so bad that hospitals are now forced to hire private security firms because of the threat caused by violent male patients.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) publish its findings yesterday, 'A Mental Health Service in Crisis' and painted a frightening picture of violent, out-of-control patients causing havoc in psychiatric hospitals across the country.

It found that there had been no fewer than 30 assaults on staff in just one hospital - St Ita's, Portrane, Co Dublin this year alone.

The report also revealed that hospitals were forced to call in Gardaí in riot gear to deal with violent disturbances. However, it declined to say where these incidents happened.

Private security firms were employed in Ennis; at St Ita's in Portrane; St Brendan's on Rathdown Road in Dublin and at Naas hospitals.

In Tallaght, an elderly patient was stabbed and there were 51 assaults on staff working in St Brendan's in the first half of the year.

Just last week, a patient set fire to a unit in Tallaght Hospital, leaving two nurses with burns and suffering from smoke inhalation.


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