Security review as five patients go missing from Limerick psychiatric unit

Senior HSE management are to meet to discuss security and other arrangements after five people were reported missing from a psychiatric unit at one of the country’s busiest hospitals in the past two months.

Three of the five missing people were patients in Unit 5B, a 40-bed acute mental health unit located on the grounds of University Hospital Limerick, but which operates under the remit of the Community Health Care section of the HSE.

It is understood two others were waiting to be admitted to the 5b unit in the emergency department when they left the hospital and the alarm was raised.

All five people were subsequently located and described as safe and well.

Unit 5B offers a wide range of mental health services for adults, the elderly and some adolescents, and is also an approved centre for the admission and detention of patients under the Mental Health Act 2001.

It has emerged in the past two months, five people — three men and two women — were reported as missing to gardaí after they either left the 5b unit or the emergency department of University Hospital Limerick while waiting to be assessed for admission.

In one incident last month, gardaí had to break into a property after a man barricaded himself into a house in a housing estate close to the hospital.

Security review as five patients go missing from Limerick psychiatric unit

The man entered the house which was not his but was vacant at the time and spent two hours inside before gardaí and a special negotiator team managed to get him to leave.

Another patient reported as missing was located in the west of Ireland.

When asked about the recent incidents, CEO of UL hospitals group Colette Cowen, said unit 5B was not part of her brief. However, she was aware of the recent incidents.

Ms Cowan confirmed she will be meeting Bernard Gloster, chief officer of Community Health Mid-West, to discuss the matters.

She said: “5b is not part of my brief, it is part of the community health organisation but I am aware of the number of incidents that were there [in 5b] over the last few months. We have a full security team here.”

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