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Gardaí have been gatekeepers for mental health services "for far too long" - Mark Ward TD

6 July, 2022 - by Mark Ward TD

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has called on the Minister for Health to publish the findings of the capacity review of Authorised Officer’s across the Community Healthcare Organisations.

Teachta Ward's comments come after publication of the annual report of the Mental Health Commission, which showed an increase in those involuntary detained under the mental health act that were instigated by the Gardaí.

Teachta Ward said:

“The Mental Health Commissions Annual Report stated that the number of patients detained against their will in psychiatric units rose from 1,919 in 2020 to 1,971 last year.

“The annual report showed applications for involuntary orders instigated by Gardaí also rose. Gardaí were involved in 35% of applications last year, up from 32% in 2020.

“For too long, the Gardaí have been gatekeepers for mental health services.

“During the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Mental Health Act this year, we heard that the only person to sign applications for involuntary admission to an inpatient centre should be an authorised officer of the health service.

“The rationale behind this is that it will have the effect of lessening the responsibility on families and carers, while it will also reduce the involvement of Gardaí in the admission process.

“The HSE is conducting a capacity review of Authorised Officer’s across the Community Healthcare Organisations.

"One of the reasons for this review is to find out how many authorised officers are needed and where.

“I have written to the Minister today to ask that this review be published and whatever recommendations are made, are acted on.

“There is also a problem with the lacuna created by Government in the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Act which is working its way through the Houses of the Oireachtas.
“The Minister's failure to accept Sinn Féin amendments will mean that the 1,971 people involuntary detained last year may not have their advanced healthcare wishes adhered to.
“People detained under the Mental Health Act are the only cohort of society who are excluded from having their future healthcare preferences not legislated for."

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