Proceedings against HSE over Co Cork mental health facility dropped after commitments to improvement

‘Sufficient reassurances’ that HSE will address issues at hand, MHC said

The Mental Health Commission (MHC) has withdrawn a legal proceeding against the HSE concerning a breach of legislation at a mental health facility in Co Cork after “significant commitments” were made by the HSE to improve conditions.

Last month, its chief executive urged that the HSE improve governance, management, and investment in inpatient mental health centres in the Cork region.

Chief executive John Farrelly said that it was clear from recent inspection reports and from the MHC’s annual report for 2021 that there were significant issues in several inpatient mental health centres in the Cork region that need to be addressed.

“In the interim, where we see significant breaches of conditions, the MHC is forced, under law, to use our enforcement powers, up to and including prosecution,” Mr Farrelly said in a statement in which the MHC confirmed it was prosecuting the HSE over a breach of legislation at a Cork facility.


The MHC has since appeared before the district court in Cork City in relation to the proceedings issued against the HSE. However, the proceedings were dropped after the HSE “agreed to implement increased oversight and governance in relation to adherence to the conditions” attached to St Stephen’s Hospital in Co Cork.

Mr Farrelly said that while the MHC were “disappointed to have to take a legal case against an approved centre we have, in this instance agreed to withdraw the legal proceedings against the HSE only because we have received sufficient reassurances and commitments from them that addresses the issues at hand.”

The HSE has committed to include St Stephen’s in the Capital Plan for the build of a 50-bed mental health unit and facilities with €100,000 allocated to this initiative.

The HSE has also agreed to the unlocking of Unit 3 in the facility and the introduction of the keypad which will allow residents freedom of movement.

Finally, the HSE has agreed to undertake an independent multidisciplinary review of the needs and transfer of patients that was at the heart of the legal challenge.

The MHC “welcomed the commitments from the HSE to address our concerns and will closely monitor their progress and implementation.”

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times