Thursday, 6 November 2014

Questions (142, 167, 173, 174, 175)

Colm Keaveney

Question:

142. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Health the action he has taken to address the welfare issues arising from the continuing practice of the Health Service Executive of admitting children to adult mental health facilities; the steps he has taken to ensure that all staff in such units have Garda vetting and that each unit has a child protection officer; if his Department has carried out any investigation or study into the welfare of such children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42575/14]

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Colm Keaveney

Question:

167. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Health if all approved centres, under the meaning of the Mental Health Act 2001, including adult mental health units into which children have been admitted, are in compliance with section 17 of S.I. No. 551/2006 - Mental Health Act 2001 (Approved Centres) Regulations 2006; the action taken to ensure that all such centres are in compliance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42536/14]

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Colm Keaveney

Question:

173. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Health if he will provide details of every adult mental health facility or unit where children have been admitted in each year from 2011 to date in 2014 inclusive where Garda vetting of all staff who would have come into contact with said children has not taken place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42572/14]

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Colm Keaveney

Question:

174. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied that the welfare of children is adequately protected in mental health care facilities where the staff of same do not have Garda vetting; the safeguards in place to secure the welfare of such children; if he has commissioned any reports into the welfare issues raised by this practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42573/14]

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Colm Keaveney

Question:

175. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Health the continuing practice of admitting children to adult mental health units, if he will confirm that all such units or facilities where children have been admitted since 2011 have a designated child protection officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42574/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 142, 167 and 173 to 175, inclusive, together.

The principal functions of the Mental Health Commission are to promote, encourage and foster the establishment and maintenance of high standards in the delivery of mental health services and to take all reasonable steps to protect the interests of all persons, including children, in approved centres under the Mental Health Act 2001. The Commission also appoints the Inspector of Mental Health Services who, in accordance with the Act, is required to visit and inspect every approved centre annually and, as the Inspectorate thinks appropriate, to visit and inspect any other premises where mental health services are being provided.

Under the 2001 Act, the Commission has a number of powers in relation to approved centres. These include the attachment of any conditions it considers appropriate to the registration of such centres. Such conditions could include the requirement to introduce or to review specified policies, protocols and procedures relating to the care and welfare of residents. In addition, the Commission can prepare codes of practice for the guidance of persons working in the mental health services. As a consequence of the Commission carrying out its functions, I am satisfied that the rights of patients are regularly and appropriately reviewed in line with mental health legislation.

In regard to the temporary admissions of some children to adult units, this arises only where an appropriate placement is not available and the Mental Health Commission must be informed outlining the circumstances of the admission. Services must outline what efforts have been made to admit the chid to an age appropriate approved centre and what are the plans to place the child in an age appropriate approved centre in line with Section 33(3)(e) of the Mental Health Act 2001.

In regard to the specific service and welfare issues raised by the Deputy these are the statutory operational responsibility of the HSE and have been referred to the Executive for direct reply. If he has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days, I would ask him to please contact my Private Office and they will follow up the matter with them.