High Court may call head of mental health services to explain lack of bed for teenager

Girl’s condition deteriorated over weekend

Mr Justice Kevin Cross:  said that if progress is not made, he will consider an application from the girl’s mother to have Jim Ryan, acting director of mental health services, brought before him at 2pm Tuesday.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross: said that if progress is not made, he will consider an application from the girl’s mother to have Jim Ryan, acting director of mental health services, brought before him at 2pm Tuesday.

 

The HSE director of mental health services may be called before the High Court today if progress has not been made in finding a psychiatric hospital bed for a teenager in urgent need.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that if progress is not made, he will consider an application from the girl’s mother to have Jim Ryan, acting director of mental health services, brought before him at 2pm today.

Attacked staff

On Friday, the High Court heard there was no bed for the teenager and she would have to remain in a non-secure residential unit being looked after by three child-care staff.

She had previously absconded from the unit, attacked staff, climbed on to its roof and run out into traffic.

She has many behavioural and psychiatric problems including refusing to use a toilet or to sleep in a bed.

She also refuses to eat food touched by others and is malnourished, the court previously heard.

The Child and Family Agency had the girl psychiatrically assessed and last week the psychiatrist found she met the criteria to be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric unit under Section 25 of the Mental Health Act 2001. But the HSE has not made an application to detain her as no suitable bed has been found.

On Friday, Mr Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh ordered that a meeting of clinical directors of psychiatric hospitals be convened on Saturday to consider the case.

But the court heard yesterday that the meeting did not go ahead until yesterday morning.

Counsel for the girl’s mother said the teenager’s condition deteriorated over the weekend and she had to be restrained four times.

She said the girl’s case was described as “a tragedy waiting to happen” by the psychiatrist who assessed her.

She urged the court to consider calling Mr Ryan to court to identify the “blockage” in the system.

Progress

The solicitor for the girl’s court-appointed guardian supported the call for Mr Ryan’s attendance.

“The health, safety and welfare of this child is in peril,” he said.

Counsel for the HSE said as a result of “huge work” behind the scenes, a possible placement had been identified for the teenager, but she did not yet know when the necessary assessment would be carried out. She said she hoped she would be able to tell the court this morning.

It would not be helpful to “direct someone to attend court” as “it simply refocuses minds on the court case” instead of on finding a solution, she said.

“All possible steps to resolve the situation are being taken,” she said.

Mr Justice Cross adjourned the case to this morning.