Prospects for new Central Mental Hospital ‘hopeless’

THE condition of the Central Mental Hospital is “appalling” and prospects of getting a new one built seem “hopeless”, the head of the hospital has said.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner Dr Harry Kennedy said the condition of the hospital is a big worry, but though there have been promises to build a new one, he said he has “no idea” when this will happen.

“The place is in an appalling condition and the building needs a huge amount of work,” he said.

“It would be far more sensible to build a new hospital but I don’t know if this is going to happen now.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the Government is “keen to progress the issue of the development of a new CMH.

According to the department, the HSE is preparing a business case for the project, which will include consideration of the funding and site options.

In January, former minister with responsibility for mental health John Moloney said an alternative site had been identified and preliminary discussions have taken place between the HSE and the planning authorities.

This suggests the new Government has decided to review that site decision which was never made public.

As revealed in the Irish Examiner last month, the first ever order for a conditional discharge from the CMH was signed in April under new legislation which allows for the recall of patients if rules are breached.

Dr Kennedy said he expected more patients, some of whom have been living in the hospital for more than 20 years, to be released.

Patients are monitored and supported in the community, he said, and an appropriate plan is put in place for each individual to help them avoid falling ill again.

Dr Kennedy said having the option of conditional release is useful to ensure patients remain actively engaged with their care and understand the importance of it.

He said while releases would free up much needed spaces, this is not the thinking behind releasing people.

“If a person no longer needs to be in an intensive care hospital then it is important they can move into a different kind of care,” he said.

Patients at CMH, which is a forensic service for the seriously ill, are reviewed every six months by the Mental Health Review Board.


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