The number of people with serious mental health problems in prison has almost tripled in the past 10 years.
That is according to the Psychiatric Nurses Association, which says patients are being tortured by a lack of services.
It is calling for the implementation of a ten year old policy on our mental health services.
Des Kavanagh is general secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses association, which together with the Royal college of Surgeons has looked at the Vision for Change strategy – 10 years on.
They welcomed that strategy, but say it has been used to cut services, and now needs to be implemented.
Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald has said the government is now looking at reviewing it: “It is kind of depressing that 10 years on the failure to implement this policy is absolutely evident and yet the Government proposes again, to review.
“I would be worried that the emphasis by Government is on review rather than implementation.”
The PNA points to an inability to attract the right staff, and the fact that 3 quarters of the country doesn’t have the required mental health services.
Des Kavanagh says he recently told the new Health Minister that while there have been improvements in the sector in the past 40 years, in many ways it’s worse: “The kindness that was there, is not there now.
“Patients cannot access that kindness because the services are not available, we end up with people with serious psychosis in prison cells, I can’t imagine anything more tortuous than a patient who is agitated and psychotic, being confined for maybe 23 hours a day in a prison cell.”