Ennis unit in breach of overcrowding regulations


Overcrowding at the acute psychiatric unit in Ennis is forcing staff to locate patients in an activities-therapy room during the night and wheel the patients back out into the unit corridor during the day.

The Inspector of Mental Health Services (IMHS) has found the Health Service Executive (HSE) to be in breach of mental-health regulations in relation to overcrowding.

The IMHS found that on 30 occasions between January and April of this year, patients were wheeled into the activities-therapy room at night because of a lack of available beds. According to the report: “Residents’ privacy was significantly compromised.”

The overcrowding stems from the 39-bed unit now looking after psychiatric patients from north Tipperary – when inspectors visited the unit, they recorded that 13 north Tipperary patients were present.

Conditions at the unit also prompted three residents, including two from north Tipperary, to voice their concerns to inspectors about the level of care they were receiving.

The inspectors recorded: “One resident was dissatisfied with the level of health and social-care input into their care, and considered that this had seriously disadvantaged recovery and unnecessarily delayed discharge.”

In response to the report’s finding, the general secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) Des Kavanagh said yesterday: “The overcrowding taking place at the unit is anti-psychiatry and anti-recovery.

Mr Kavanagh said that when the acute unit was opened after the closure of the 19th-century psychiatric hospital “we were confident that the new unit would be a symbol of modern Irish psychiatry”. However, Mr Kavanagh said that with the overcrowding taking place, this hasn’t proven to be the case.