Psychiatric services not available to treat 16-year-old boy, judge says

HSE obtains order to transfer boy to England for psychiatric care

Mr Justice George Birmingham said the  facilities and staffing resources in St Andrew’s psychiatric hospital in Northampton, England, were “significantly better” than those available in Ireland. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Mr Justice George Birmingham said the facilities and staffing resources in St Andrew’s psychiatric hospital in Northampton, England, were “significantly better” than those available in Ireland. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 17:57

A High Court judge has said it is regrettable that specialist psychiatric services do not exist in Ireland to treat a 16-year-old boy who is to be transferred to England.

Approving a court order to transfer the boy from St Joseph’s adolescent psychiatric unit in Fairview, Dublin, to St Andrew’s Hospital, a secure adolescent psychiatric unit in Northampton, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the only place to obtain the care the boy needed was to send him to St Andrew’s.

The facilities and staffing resources there were “significantly better” than what is available in Ireland, he said. While the court was pleased to hear there were plans for an adolescent forensic psychiatric unit in Portrane, Co Dublin, that was “cold comfort” to the boy’s family.

The Health Service Executive applied for an order of the court last week to allow them to transfer the boy from St Joseph’s. He was admitted to hospital on three occasions since June 2012 following psychotic episodes. He had been using cannabis, became violent and had set fires.

His parents, who were separately represented in court, were opposing the order. The court had heard the boy was very close to his parents and they wanted their son to be treated in Ireland. However, having heard evidence from doctors involved in his case, the family withdrew their objection to the order yesterday.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the move to St Andrew’s should be conducted with the utmost sensitivity.