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Lessons must be learned from Central Mental Hospital failings - Mark Ward TD

6 December, 2022 - by Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called on the government to address the concerns raised in the Irish Penal Reform Trust report on patients detained in the Central Mental Hospital.

Speaking after the meeting of the Oireachtas subcommittee on Mental Health where the report was discussed, Teachta Ward said:

“The report carried out by the Irish Penal Reform Trust and University of Galway raises concerns about the process of being detained in the secure mental health facilities.

“The report highlights people being failed at every step of being detained, before and during detainment, and when being discharged.

“Some of the issues highlighted include ‘unfitness to plead’ to an offence, leading to one individual being detained since the 1970s.

“Side-effects of treatment are not properly being explained to individuals who are detained, and the use of seclusion and restraints are being used at a higher rate than other facilities.

“No lay person is included on the Mental Health Review Board and there is only one deciding officer for people to be returned to the Central Mental Hospital.

“It is quite clear that the system has failed these people at every step of the process. It raises the question of how this could go on for so long.

“A concern raised at today’s subcommittee meeting was that the Department of Justice does not keep data on the number of people within the penal system who have mental ill-health, an addiction or a disability.

“This is concerning, and I have raised this directly with the Minister for Justice.

“We now have a chance to reimagine how we treat people detained based on their mental health. Ahead of the move of the Central Mental Hospital to Portrane, lessons must be learned from past mistakes.

“I have written to the Minister for Health to clarify if these recommendations will be implemented going forward ahead of the move of the Central Mental Hospital.

“The emphasis for the government now must be to learn from these mistakes, and deliver a quality of care for services that meets our obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

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