Written Answers. - Mental Health Services.

Ivor Callely

Question:

573 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, Dublin 14, is closing down its outpatient rehabilitation programme for sex offenders; his views on the recent report of a medical journal that agencies are less willing to see programmes as offering a solution and are looking to punishment rather than treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1647/99]

The sexual offenders' programme at the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, under the direction of a consultant forensic psychiatrist, was suspended following recent deliberations by the treatment team, which also includes a forensic psychologist and a forensic social worker. The suspension of the programme stemmed from the team's concerns about its continued viability, particularly in relation to decreasing referral rates and the reluctance of past offenders to participate in the programme. I am not aware from my inquiries with the Eastern Health Board of any other reasons why the programme has ceased.

The programme remains under review and can be restarted if and when the need arises. The experience gained has not been lost to the forensic service and will be incorporated into any new programme, if thought to be worth while and viable.