Public representatives have united in their opposition to plans by the HSE to close the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea.
This week, Independent deputy Michael Fitzmaurice called on elected representatives to “band together and fight this decision in unison”, regardless of any party affiliations.
Family members of residents in the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea were informed last week that the unit will “cease to function as a community psychiatric unit” following a review of clinical assessments carried out by Dr James Anderson.
Reacting to the developments, Deputy Fitzmaurice said that “all politicians in Co Roscommon now have a choice to make; everyone must stand side by side with the residents and their families”.
“I am throwing down the gauntlet to all politicians to vote against this Government at every possible opportunity until this decision is overturned. Elected representatives who support this Government, either directly or through the confidence and supply agreement, must now make a choice. Do they support these people or do they turn a blind eye due to party politics?” he asked.
Independent Deputy Denis Naughten appealed for a fresh assessment of patients currently resident at the Rosalie Unit.
Deputy Naughten said he and other Oireachtas representatives had met with Minister Jim Daly last Thursday after he had raised the issue in the Dáil the previous day.
“I’m awaiting a response from the minister on my proposals,” said Deputy Naughten, who said he understood a decision to move the patients from the Rosalie Unit could be deferred as an interim measure.
Senator Maura Hopkins said that “as a healthcare professional and a public representative, I am standing with the people on this issue”.
“I do not want it to come to a position where I have to consider whether or not I will be a candidate for Fine Gael at the next General Election.”
Local Fianna Fáil councillor Paschal Fitzmaurice said he believed the decision “can be reversed if the political will is there”.
“I firmly believe the HSE are the civil servants of the Government. This decision could be reversed if the political will is there.
“I accept we all have to change and adjust to carry out what we do, not least the health service. But in this case, no effort is being made to adapt mental health services, only a decision to close resources, particularly as so many people have dementia and particularly after the recently published report on mental health services in Roscommon,” he said.
“I think people made conclusions from an early stage about the future of the Rosalie Unit, who were neither engaged in psychiatric or geriatric care, that the facility wasn’t viable. I think that is wrong.”
Cllr Orla Leyden said the reality is that the Rosalie Unit is a familiar home with excellent care for 12 residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia that do not deserve to be treated like this.
“It is inhumane. This is a cynical cost-saving exercise by Tony Canavan, HSE, with no regard to the psychological well-being of residents who call Rosalie home,” she said.
Deputy Eugene Murphy noted that the Government had broken its promises in relation to the Rosalie Unit — when An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was Minister for Health he gave a commitment that the Rosalie Unit would not be closed and more recently reassurances were given by Minister of State Jim Daly.
Local election candidate Padraig Morris, Ballinlough, said the closure is a disgrace. “This Government is closing Rosalie, the previous Government closed the A&E. What’s next?” he asked.