West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Clarity sought on the future of mental health services in Omagh

Published: 31 January, 2012

Mid Tyrone Sinn Féin councillor Anne Marie Fitzgerald has said there is anger at apparent proposals to strip Mental Health services from the new Hospital in Omagh. She made the claims after meeting with Unison representatives during the week.

She said that it was the understanding of Unison representatives that Omagh will be stripped of Mental Health provision in advance of the opening of the new Hospital in Omagh.

Councillor Fitzgerald said:

"The future of acute mental health services in Omagh was raised at a meeting of the Join Liaison Group between the Council and the Western Trust on 18th January and we got full reassurances that this service would be retained. The unions understanding however seems to run contrary to this. So there are real concerns over the future of acute mental health services in the local area.

"We know phase one of the new hospital build is to commence in 2013. Phase two was to contain a 26 bedded unit with a Mental Health outpatient's facility. It is great concern to us the Mental Health provision envisaged under phase two of the project will not now materialise due to what would seem as 'underhand tactics' to make the new Erne hospital more viable.

"It is our understanding there are three options currently being considered. These are locating Mental Health services at Gransha only, providing them on 2 unspecified sites or thirdly providing them in Enniskillen and Gransha. It is obviously of huge concern that Omagh doesn't seem to factor into the equation whatsoever.

"The proposed Omagh Unit would be centrally based and would accommodate patients from a wide geographical area. Currently in Omagh we have a scenario where demand outstrips capacity. Only this weekend as I understand there were 16 patients for 10 male beds.

"Mental Health is a specialised service and one which has been put under pressure for years. Such services appear to have been cut from vulnerable people, without any due care or consideration.

"We as a council are deeply concerned that if the analysis of Unison is correct, the Trust is stripping more vital services from Omagh. Of course they may go for a public consultation in a Public relations exercise but at the end of the day it seems to be a cutting exercise. We have sought an urgent meeting with the Minister directly as well as the Joint Health Liaison group to address this issue and bring some clarity to the matter. We are very disappointed that the people of the Omagh and surrounding areas are being treated in such a manner. CRÍOCH