A new purpose built mental health unit to replace St Columba’s in Sligo is to be built on the grounds of Sligo Regional Hospital and is due to be opened in two years time.
Planning permission for the new building, which will have 25 bedrooms, was granted last week and the HSE said this week that it is anticipated that work on site will commence in the second quarter of next year and it is planned to open the unit in the third quarter of 2017.
Joy Synnott, Business Manager, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services, told the Sligo Weekender that this was a “good news story” for their clients, as it will provide inpatients with a modern facility on the grounds of the regional hospital.
“Clients will now be guaranteed privacy in single en-suite bedrooms within a purpose built unit designed to meet their needs.
“The ongoing stigma of having a mental illness/condition is also addressed because the unit will be on the Sligo Regional Hospital campus as an additional department and not a separate entity altogether.”
She acknowledged that the existing facility at St Columba’s has been strongly criticised in reports of inspections by the Mental Health Commission Inspectorate.
Ms Synott noted that Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services were advised that “Plans to relocate to a new modern facility in Sligo General Hospital should be put into effect as soon as possible” and comments that the Ballytivnan building was “outdated and institutional in appearance”.
She said the current unit in Ballytivnan was one of the last “unmodernised” Acute Inpatient Units nationally.
“Cork has just opened a new facility, Louth/Meath are about to open their new unit which leaves St Loman’s in the Midlands and St Columba’s in Sligo as the final “old” units in the country”, she said.
Ms Synott pointed out that Vision For Change (the national strategy policy for mental health services) states that Acute Inpatient Units should “be located in major general hospitals”.
It also recommends there should be 30 inpatient beds per 300,000 population. The population (catchment area) covered by Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services is 109,000 people and there will be 25 beds in the new unit.
The new unit will be located on the site currently occupied by the prefabricated buildings to the back of the Orthopaedic department and used by Sligo Regional Hospital as the Education Centre.