The Mental Health Commission (“MHC”), the Irish regulator of mental health services, has recently welcomed a decision by Kilkenny District Court to convict the HSE for breaches of the Mental Health Act 2001 (the “Act”).
The Court imposed fines totalling €5,200 on the HSE for failures which occurred at the Department of Psychiatry, St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny (“St Luke’s”). The fines were imposed after the MHC took the first prosecution of its kind against the HSE (the registered provider of St Luke’s) under the Act.
The HSE pleaded guilty to the following charges:
The MHC took legal proceedings against the HSE, following an inspection at St Luke’s in November 2018, which found critical risks. The Assistant Inspector of Mental Health Services for the MHC, Mr Martin McMenamin submitted photos to the Court and gave evidence in relation to the following:
Commenting on the above failures, Mr John Saunders, Chairman of the MHC, said the following:
“As a regulatory body, it is entirely unacceptable to find conditions that you would have expected to find in a Victorian workhouse in a mental health service in Ireland in 2019. Let me state again, the vast majority of service providers are doing a good job, but where we find conditions such as those found in this case, we must take action. We must ensure patients are treated in appropriate facilities.”
MHC Strategy 2019 – 2022
The MHC recently published its strategy for 2019 – 2022 entitled ‘Mental Health Commission Strategy 2019-2022 Protecting People’s Rights’ (the “Strategy”). Commenting on the Strategy, Mr John Farrelly, CEO of the MHC, issued a stark warning to providers of mental health services in Ireland, by confirming that the MHC will intervene ‘using all powers necessary’ where standards are not acceptable and human rights are not being upheld.
This first prosecution by the MHC is in line with the MHC’s mission for 2019 – 2022, i.e. to ‘regulate, engage, promote, support and uphold the rights, health and well-being of all people who access mental health and decision support services.’
The MHC has published a press release in relation to this prosecution and can be accessed here.
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