A NORTH Belfast mother has spoken of her anger after she was told to urgently collect her daughter from a mental health and learning disability unit due to a staffing crisis last weekend.
New Lodge mum, Jeanna Kelly's daughter, Shannon (13), who suffers from autism and complex learning and behavioural issues, has been in the Iveagh Centre in the Royal Victoria Hospital for the last five months.
The Iveagh Centre is a hospital inpatient facility for young people, aged from 12 to 17 years old with a learning disability and additional mental health problems, including neuro-developmental disorders, acute psychiatric disorders or illness and severe behaviour difficulties.
Last Friday, Jeanna was on her way to Dublin to attend a Garth Brooks concert when she was contacted by the Belfast Trust and told that she would have to urgently collect her daughter Shannon from the facility.
Speaking to the North Belfast News, Jeanna said: "Last Thursday, I had a meeting with the Belfast Trust about getting a care package in place for Shannon to return home in the next few months. I thought the meeting went well and there was going to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
"On Friday afternoon, I was heading to Dublin with my sister to the Garth Brooks concert. I informed the Trust that I would not be able to visit until Saturday. It was my first time across the door in months.
"We arrived in Dublin at around 5pm and I got a call saying that I needed to collect Shannon from the Iveagh Centre urgently.
"I was shocked and thought something was wrong. The Trust knew I would not be available on Friday.
"I rushed back early on Saturday. I arrived, with my other daughter with plastic bags for all of Shannon's stuff. I was given medication and shown out the door. There was nothing in place.
"Back in the house, Shannon was fine for a few hours but kicked off and I could not get her settled. I contacted Social Services who said to bring her straight back to the Iveagh Centre on Saturday night at 11.45pm.
"Shannon suffered injuries and myself. She split her head open as well.
"I honestly cannot believe what she has had to go through last weekend and it is appalling that families had to be put in this position.
"I am disgusted. I don't trust anyone at the Iveagh Centre anymore. Shannon has been in a terrible state since this happened on Saturday.
"I want a care package put in place with the help and support Shannon needs. My child is not a criminal."
North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín says she has written to the health minister, Belfast Trust and Chief Social Worker seeking an ‘urgent solution’ to the crisis at the Iveagh Centre.
The North Belfast MLA has said closure of the centre had left high-risk young people with absolutely no certainty.
“Closing Iveagh House and leaving high-risk young people and their families with no certainty on when it would reopen is totally unacceptable," she said.
“One of the vulnerable young people discharged from the centre on Friday night was immediately returned to care on Saturday night. This has clearly placed an already high-risk young person at even more risk.
“I have written to the Health Minister, the Belfast Trust and the Chief Social Worker to urge them all to act urgently to find a solution to the ongoing crisis at Iveagh House and ensure the immediate resumption of services.”
A Belfast Health and Social Care Trust spokesperson said: "Belfast Trust accepts that the current staffing arrangements at the Iveagh Centre are challenging.
"Staffing levels are kept under ongoing review in order to maintain the highest levels of care and the centre remains open.
"Young people who are discharged from the Iveagh Centre have a care plan in place to ensure they and their families have support."