Four inpatient mental health units have conditions attached to re-registration

Move by Mental Health Commission followed inspections of units in Cork and Dublin

Enforcement action has been taken against four inpatient psychiatric facilities over failures to meet appropriate standards following inspections, the Mental Health Commission has confirmed.

In a statement on Friday it said conditions had been attached to the re registration of the units. These specify improvements which must be made.

The four centres against which action was taken include the acute mental health unit in Cork University Hospital; St Aloysius ward, in the Mater Hospital, Dublin; the department of psychiatry in Connolly Hospital, Dublin; and LeBrun and Whitethorn House, in the Vergemount Mental Health Facility, Clonskeagh, Dublin.

The Mental Health Commission inspects registered mental health facilities and units, and has the power to remove a facility’s licence to operate if repeated shortcomings are not addressed.


Over the last year it said it attached conditions for improvements as a requirement for the re-registration of the four centres.

Inspectors who visited the acute mental health unit at Cork University Hospital criticised failings in the centre’s care plans for patients. An inspection report published in October found some residents’ care plans did not include assessments of their needs, or their goals, and some had no input from patients’ families.

The report also criticised medication records at the unit, and found seven patients’ medication records did not detail resident’s allergies or sensitivities to certain medication.

The commission’s inspection of St Aloysius ward, in the Mater Hospital criticised the lack of appropriate therapeutic services that were provided to patients.

The department of psychiatry in Connolly Hospital was criticised in the commission’s latest inspection, as not all healthcare professionals had up to date staff training in mandatory areas such as fire safety, basic life support, and the management of violence and aggression.

LeBrun and Whitethorn House, in the south Dublin Vergemount Mental Health Facility had one condition for improvement attached to its re-registration, which related to its premises.

The commission’s inspection report found the centre was “not in a good state of repair,” and inspectors found broken floor tiles, walls in need of repainting, and no ongoing programme of decorative maintenance at the centre.

Rosemary Smyth, director of standards and quality assurance at the Commission, said the watchdog “does not attach registration conditions lightly.”

Where there are “repeated failures to meet basic requirements” the Commission had an obligation to take enforcement action, she said.

“We are committed to working with services to improve the quality of the care and treatment delivered”.

Mental health centres are required to re-register every three years.

John Farrelly chief executive of the Commission said the regulator’s role was “to promote high standards and quality in mental health services. As a regulator, our role is to call out those that do not meet those standards, that is the case with the four approved centres which were re-registered with conditions. In attaching conditions, effectively an endorsement on their licence to operate, we are ensuring that each individual approved centre must focus on improvements in fundamental areas and they must also set out in detail, through providing regular reports to us, the progress they are making.

“Our priority is the people using these services and we are determined to ensure standards are met for their sake. In our view it is not acceptable when standards are not met and when that occurs we will intervene, using all powers necessary, without fear or favour.”

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times