The Mental Health Commission was established under the Mental Health Act 2001. The commission’s main functions are to promote, encourage and foster high standards and good practices in the delivery of mental health services and to protect the interests of patients who are involuntarily admitted. Accordingly, the Mental Health Act 2001 states that the Inspector of Mental Health Services shall visit and inspect every approved centre at least once in each year, and visit and inspect any other premises where mental health services are being provided as he or she thinks appropriate.
The expert group review of this Act was published in 2015 and work is under way on preparing the general scheme of a Bill to reflect the group's recommendations in revised mental health legislation. A number of proposed changes to the legislation will affect the operation of the commission. Included in these is the recommendation to remove the requirement to inspect each approved centre annually. Instead, there would be a requirement to inspect each approved centre at least once in every three-year period and more often according to targeted risk. This would allow, on a phased basis, the registration and inspection of all community mental health teams and other mental health facilities such as support hostels, crisis or respite houses, other residential services, day hospitals, day centres and other facilities in which mental health services are provided at the discretion of the Mental Health Commission.
Significant progress has been made in recent months with the aim of finalising the draft heads of the Bill in the coming weeks. The initial draft will then be passed on to the Mental Health Commission for its views. Notwithstanding other legislative pressures on the Oireachtas at the moment, it is anticipated that the mental health (amendment) Bill will then commence its progress through the Oireachtas later this year.