Transfer of group to hospital criticised


The State’s mental health watchdog has criticised health authorities for planning to move a group of intellectually disabled people who have been living in the community back into an outdated psychiatric institution.

Under the plan by health authorities in Co Galway, disabled service users would be transferred to a ward of St Brigid’s hospital in Ballinasloe which dates from the 1930s. The Inspector for Mental Health Services criticised the move as it would institutionalise people who have spent years living in the community.

Community residents

“It would be unacceptable for community residents to move back into an institutionalised hospital ward setting complete with a seclusion suite . . .” the report found.

“Removing St Luke’s ward from registration as an approved centre does not negate the responsibility of the Health Service Executive to ensure against reinstitutionalising citizens who have already spent many years in the community . . . This was unacceptable and not in line with national mental health policy.”

The inspector found there was some progress at the hospital in drawing up individual care plans for the 38 patients, as well as improved procedures for physical and mechanical restraints.

Staffing gaps

In another report the inspector raised concern at staffing gaps at the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum.

It found there were insufficient allied healthcare professionals such as psychologists and occupational therapists at the 94-bed hospital.

The director of the hospital, Dr Harry Kennedy, has previously warned of a “serious community risk” as a result of a lack of staff.