Social Democrats Galway West candidate Niall Ó Tuathail says the disturbing photos released from inside the psychiatric unit of University Hospital Waterford “demonstrates the human cost from the failings in the healthcare system” as well as highlighting the way “people can be mistreated for presenting with a mental illness in our society.”

The photos from inside the psychiatric unit showed evidence of people being left to sleep on the floor and on chairs in the hallway.

Ó Tuathail called the images “shocking” but that it was “part of a larger system which isn’t properly serving those with serious mental health needs.”

Ó Tuathail said: “Mental health care isn’t taken seriously enough in this country. We’ve got some amazing staff on the frontline offering people the care they need but they aren’t backed up by a system that supports them or their patients.

“The difference between the Irish healthcare system and a properly managed and maintained system like the NHS is night and day,” said Ó Tuathail who works on healthcare reform mainly in the NHS in Scotland and England and says the conditions like these would never be acceptable there. “The NHS has problems, but a bad days at a hospital in Scotland does not compare to a bad day in Waterford or Galway.”

Ó Tuathail says one of the first ways we should address these systemic issues is through the introduction community care teams that would deal better with the needs of patients with serious mental health issues outside of the hospital setting.

“Not only is treating patients with serious mental health needs outside of the hospital show improvements on health outcomes but it’s more efficient.”

ENDS