The Mental Health Commission is an independent body that was set up in 2002. Its functions are set out in the Mental Health Act 2001. These include the promotion, encouragement and fostering of high standards and good practices in the delivery of mental health services and the protection of the interests of patients who are involuntarily admitted.
On 21 December 2018, the Mental Health Commission issued a summons against the HSE as registered proprietor of the Department of Psychiatry, St. Luke’s Hospital (Kilkenny). On 25 February, Kilkenny District Court found against the HSE on a number of charges relating to breaches of the 2001 Mental Health Act. St Luke’s Hospital pleaded guilty to four charges including poor maintenance of seclusion facilities and failure to comply with the rules governing signing of the seclusion register by a consultant psychiatrist responsible as required by the law.
Developing Mental Health services remains a priority for Government. The recent Budget provided an additional €55 million to progress new developments in mental health which brings overall HSE mental health funding to nearly €1 billion in 2019.
The HSE has guaranteed that actions will be taken to address these failings. These include the prioritisation of the Department of Psychiatry facility in Kilkenny for upgrading works in excess of €1 million to bring the unit up to standard. This investment will address deficiencies identified during inspection processes and will include a comprehensive decorative maintenance programme across the facility, to ensure full compliance with MHC set regulations in respect of privacy and premises.
In addition, a Household Supervisor and additional household personnel will be appointed to address the cleaning deficits, while training programme for staff on rules governing the use of seclusion will be commenced.
The Department of Health, along with the Mental Health Commission, will continue to monitor efforts by the HSE to improve standards and conditions for all patients in line with rules and regulations as directed by the Mental Health Act 2001.