Inspectors criticise long mental health delays

Only one out of 27 institutions fully compliant with regulations

Fri, Mar 22, 2013, 06:00


Long waiting lists in the provision of mental health services for children and adolescents have developed in many parts of the State, according to the latest batch of reports from the Mental Health Commission.

Only one out of 27 facilities inspected by the commission last year, St Patrick’s University Hospital in Dublin, was found to comply with all applicable regulations. Ten approved centres required further improvements, individual reports found.

At Éist Linn child and adolescent inpatient unit in Cork, only 12 out of 20 beds were operational. Management reported that more staff posts needed to be filled before the remaining beds could be opened. On the day of inspection, there were 15 children waiting for admission.

Inspectors found the admission and discharge processes were excellent but attention needed to be paid to the maintenance of files.

Although the adolescent inpatient unit at St Vincent’s hospital had 12 beds, only six were commissioned on the day of inspection. Five young people were on the waiting list for admission.

At the acute psychiatric unit of the Midwestern Regional Hospital in Ennis, bed occupancy was running at 113 per cent and residents were frequently required to sleep in inappropriate accommodation.

On the day of inspection, one resident’s bed was in a corridor with no provision for safe storage of personal belongings or privacy, while another resident was rummaging through these personal belongings.

Inspectors found that the practice of transferring patients to a unit of Limerick Regional Hospital due to overcrowding continued, even though it was not in the best interests of residents.

Their reports found that sector teams were not adequately resourced and social care professionals were “stretched”, thus limiting the range of therapeutic services available.

Meanwhile, in Kildare, the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service had 47 children on its waiting list. However, inspectors praised the comprehensive service to children and the high standard of teamwork and clinical governance in place.

In Waterford Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, they found that despite the provision of 20 inpatient beds for children and adolescents, there was difficulty of access, particularly in an emergency situation. A second psychiatrist was needed in the service, the report found.

Average waiting time for the equivalent service in Limerick was three months, while two children were on the waiting list for six months, inspectors found. The building was not suitable for a child and adolescent mental health service.