Cork East Fine Gael TD, David Stanton, has asked the Department of Health and the HSE to consider pausing the proposed closure of the Owenacurra Mental Health Centre in Midleton until further clarity has been provided on proposals to accommodate residents and the continuation of the centre’s services.
Highlighting the concerns of residents and the possible loss of services in the East Cork area, with the Minister of the State in the Department of Health, Frank Feighan TD, in the Dáil, David Stanton said: “The centre provides mental health services, continuing care, mental health care and respite for people in a vast area. Last June, a decision was taken to close the centre. Some 19 residents are currently in the centre. We were told there would be moves to find alternative accommodation for these people. There is also a day centre, which facilitates between 40 and 60 people per week. It is also used as a respite centre for two people every two weeks. That is a very important service to the people of East Cork.
“I have two big issues. First, I want the HSE and the Minister of State to tell me what the long-term plans are to replace this service. I do not think there are any at present. That is crucial. People do not want to lose this hugely important service. The second issue concerns the 19 residents. I accept this centre is not fit for purpose and is of its time, but it is the home for these people”.
Deputy Stanton accepted that while there had been engagement with residents, this had only begun recently and further dialogue was needed before the targeted closure date of 31 October to address local concerns and ensure that all services are safeguarded in the long-term. He therefore suggested that all parties consider a pause on the decision to close the centre given the current lack of clarity and the fact that no immediate danger exists.
Minister Feighan agreed to raise this proposal with the Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD, the HSE and associated stakeholders and further engagement is expected.