Human rights, privacy breaches found at Dublin mental health facility

Watchdog identifies serious breaches of regulations in its inspections at Connolly hospital

Human rights breaches in physical restraint of residents, as well as serious breaches of privacy were observed by inspectors at a Dublin-based mental health facility.

The inspection of the Department of Psychiatry, Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown was carried out in February by the Mental Health Commission. The during watchdog is charged with carrying out annual inspections of the State's mental health services.

The inspectors found compliance at the facility, which had 47 beds and 36 residents at the time of the inspection, had steadily decreased over the past three years from 66 per cent in 2017 to 63 per cent in 2018 and to 56 per cent in the 2019 inspection.

The facility has been non-compliant with eight regulations for three consecutive years. Six compliances with regulations were rated as excellent.


There were two conditions attached to the registration of the centre. These required continuous auditing of individual care plans, and the implementation of a plan to ensure healthcare professionals receive up to date mandatory training.

However, the centre was non-compliant with both regulations on this inspection.

At the time of inspection, the centre had six high risk non-compliances for individual care planning, general health, privacy, maintenance of records, prescribing storing and administration of medicines and the use of physical restraint.

There were serious breaches of privacy with notice boards in the nurse’s station in both units displaying resident names and other information. These boards were visible through glass panelling from outside the nurse’s station.

During the inspection, a list of resident names was observed in the reception area of the unit which was accessible to visitors and non-clinical staff.

CCTV cameras, in corridor areas which were accessed by residents, were capable of recording or storing a resident’s image. Monitors in the nursing office were viewable by residents and members of the public.

Since the inspection, the notice boards have all been replaced with “fold over notice boards” which conceal resident information from members of public.

There were two breaches of human rights evident in the approved centre at the time of inspection. The staff did not adhere to the code of practice when a resident was physically restrained.

In one case, a staff member was not designated to be responsible for leading the physical restraint and monitoring the head and airway of the resident.

Separately, the commission identified two high risk ratings of non-compliance for premises and use of physical restraint during an inspection of the Department of Psychiatry at Roscommon University Hospital in February.

There was one condition attached to the registration of this approved centre at the time of inspection relating to privacy and premises. The centre was non-compliant with premises at the time of inspection. It was compliant with the privacy regulation.

In relation to the “high risk non-compliance” on premises, hazards, including large open spaces, slippery floors, and hard and sharp edges, were not minimised in the facility.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter