Northern Ireland

Beechcroft: Staff shortages lead to some children going to adult wards

Beechcroft
Image caption The Beechcroft unit is in south Belfast

A small number of young people were admitted to adult mental health wards in recent weeks due to a shortage of specialist staff at NI's only inpatient facility for children with mental health problems.

Some admissions were delayed while beds were found on suitable wards, the BBC understands.

The Beechcroft Child and Adolescent Unit is in south Belfast.

The Belfast Trust said there had been staff shortages at the unit.

A spokesperson said a contingency plan was in place.

It said the unit "is currently experiencing a challenging nursing workforce position, primarily as a result of a regional shortage of nurses, staff leaving the unit to take up other posts and short-term sick leave".

Not closed to admissions

"The trust has taken steps to manage the situation and has put in place a contingency plan to deal with the workforce challenges, including bringing in additional nursing staff over the next few weeks.

"The unit remains open to admissions where there is a clinical requirement to do so."

The trust also confirmed that a small number of teenagers were admitted to adult wards.

Staff shortages caused the temporary closure last year of Muckamore Abbey Hospital's psychiatric intensive care unit.

Staff suspensions and sickness levels triggered the temporary move, which highlighted how parts of the local health and social care system are struggling due to a lack of specialist teams.

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