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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 25 Feb 2003

Vol. 562 No. 1

Written Answers - Mental Health Services.

Kathleen Lynch


376 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if an audit has been carried out on individuals inappropriately placed in psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric units around the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5313/03]

Persons receiving care in psychiatric facilities are regularly assessed to ensure that the most appropriate care and treatment is being provided but it is accepted that there are people who are inappropriately placed. However, substantial progress has been made in recent years in developing alternatives to hospitalisation within the mental health services. Health boards have developed, and are continuing to develop, a modern comprehensive community-based mental health service.

Since the publication of Planning for the Future in 1984 there has been a significant decrease in the number of patients in psychiatric hospitals and units. At 31 December, 2001 there were 4,256 patients in psychiatric hospitals and units compared to 12,484 in December 1984. Considerable progress has also been made in providing additional community-based residential accommodation. There are now over 400 community residences. Securing local authority housing for persons suffering from the disablement of psychiatric illness remains a difficulty in some locations. However, the health boards and the efforts of voluntary housing agencies continue to improve this situation through the provision of community residential accommodation. It is the Government's intention to continue the growth in alternatives to hospitalisation with the further development of community-based services throughout the country.

In relation to persons with an intellectual disability in psychiatric hospitals, the number of such persons in October 2002 was 452, down from 490 in April 2002. The figure in 1996 was 970. Between 1999 and 2002 additional revenue funding of €10.476 million and €27.4 million capital funding was allocated to the intellectual disabilities programme to provide more appropriate care settings for; persons with an intellectual disability and those with autism accommodated in psychiatric hospitals; those accommodated in de-designated units, which were formerly designated as part of the psychiatric services; and others who moved some years ago from psychiatric hospitals to alternative accommodation which is now unsuitable for their needs.

Finally, it is anticipated that the number of admissions to psychiatric hospitals and units will decrease following the implementation of the Mental Health Act 2001, which, inter alia, provides for a review of all decisions by a consultant psychiatrist to detain a patient for psychiatric care and treatment on an involuntary basis and each decision to extend the duration of such detentions.