Mental Health Commission raises concerns over regulation of services

Concerns have been expressed about the lack of regulation in some areas of the mental health services.

The Mental Health Commission has again raised the issue of the failure to regulate all mental health services in the wake of a damning report published by the HSE last week into Roscommon mental health services.

It was commissioned following allegations of improper sexual contacts at a facility in the county and found that bad behaviour was normalised and then perpetrated by staff across the mental service in that county.

The commission has raised serious concerns about the provision of mental health services in Roscommon since 2015 and has also raised concerns about 24-hour staffed community residences all over the country.

In its 2015 report, the expert group review of the Mental Health Act 2001 called for the extension of the commission’s statutory regulatory powers to include all mental health services and not just approved centres.

While the move away from an institution-like facility towards community residences is welcome, the commission says these residences are not regulated. 

The commission has the authority to inspect them but it does not have enforcement powers and cannot close facilities if it deems that necessary.

Commission chairman John Saunders said community residences have become too large as a result of accommodating too many people and some are now becoming “mini-institutions”.

“These residences are not regulated and yet they provide care to a large number of vulnerable people with mental illness. The commission is today calling on the Government to prioritise regulation in this area by giving regulatory and enforcement powers to the Mental Health Commission,” he said.

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