Press Release

Construction to begin on new multi-million euro National Forensic Mental Health Hospital

An Taoiseach announces the signing of the contract for the new complex at Portrane

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, along with Minister for Health, Simon Harris and Minister of State for Mental Health, Helen McEntee today announced the signing of the construction contract, for the new multi-million euro National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) complex, at Portrane in Dublin.

The new 130-bed adult forensic hospital, at St. Ita’s Campus in Portrane, will replace the 94-bed Central Mental Hospital complex at Dundrum.

The complex at Portane will also include a new 30-bed Intensive Care Rehabilitation Unit (ICRU), together with a 10-bed Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) unit. This development fulfills recommendations made in the national mental health policy A Vision for Changeand the projected cost is in excess of €160 million.It is envisaged that the new facility will open in early 2020.

The project will also involve a second phase at a later stage, during which new regional Intensive Care Rehabilitation Units (ICRUs) will be built in the HSE West and HSE South areas.

Announcing the signing of the construction contract, An Taoiseach said, “This new state-of-the-art hospital, along with all of its associated facilities, will be one of the most modern of its type in Europe. It is a very welcome and long overdue replacement for the Central Mental Hospital at Dundrum. The Victorian CMH building is obviously no longer suitable for 21st century mental healthcare, and in accordance with our national mental health policy, A Vision for Change, a new hospital has been designed on the historic St. Ita’s Campus. The new complex will position Ireland’s forensic mental health services as world leaders in best clinical practice. This move to construction reflects in the most practical way the Government’s commitment to invest in and modernise all aspects of our mental health services and fully implement A Vision for Change.”

Minister Harris said, “This new hospital will be a powerful, physical symbol of our commitment to investing in mental health services in Ireland and our efforts to ensure recovery is the central theme to providing care within mental health services.  The investment in this key capital project comes in addition to a total provision of over €850m for mental health services in 2017.  It is one of three very significant capital projects in health which are all about building the modern facilities that can deliver the services of the future. Along with the National Children’s Hospital and the National Maternity Hospital, this new forensic hospital represents a huge step forward for this country and will help to ensure that our citizens are cared for in the best way possible. The new campus in Portrane will have huge benefits for service users, their families and staff.”

Minister McEntee said, “While our mental health system has rightly been moving towards greater community-based care, it has long been recognised that infrastructural deficiencies for the acute forensic service needed to be addressed. I was particularly happy to have secured funding not only to progress the original Phase 1 of this project, but also to include a much needed new ICRU. This makes sense both from a service, and a construction point of view. This project has been a priority for me as Minister and I’m delighted to see it progress to this stage. The perception of an institutional style mental health service, isolated and stigmatised from the rest of the community, is thankfully becoming a thing of the past. This new complex will provide an environment in which we can deliver a mental service which advocates recovery, for even the most complex mental health cases.”

HSE Director General Tony O’Brien said “This is a key development for mental health services in Ireland and marks a key modernisation of our acute forensic mental health infrastructure. I am delighted that the project is now progressing.”


Notes to Editors

St.Ita’s Campus, Portrane was chosen as the most suitable site for the hospital in 2011, reflecting among other criteria the long history of mental health provision at this location. The HSE has taken account of local interests, in accordance with specific initiatives agreed with both Fingal County Council and An Bord Pleanala.

The project is being carried out, in two phases, as follows:

  • Phase 1 comprises of a new 130-Bed New Adult Forensic Hospital (to replace the 94 beds at the CMH, Dundrum), together with a 10-bed Forensic Child & Adolescent Mental Health Unit (CAMHS). In addition, the Government recently provided additional funding to include a new 30 bed Intensive Care Rehabilitation Unit (ICRU) in this development.
  • Phase 2 of the National Forensic Mental Health capital project envisages new regional Intensive Care Rehabilitation Units in the HSE West and HSE South areas. These will be provided over the longer-term, as resource availability allows.

Mental Health Budget and spending in 2017
This Government is committed to improving mental health services and has continued to prioritise the funding of these services. HSE funding for mental health increased from €826m last year to €853m in 2017.

Recruitment and staffing
Over 160 additional posts recruited to the HSE mental health area over January-March this year. Sanction has been given to recruit 114 Assistant Psychologists to enhance early intervention/primary care counselling services for under 18s in particular, and relieve pressures on the specialist CAMHS service.

A Vision for Change
An evidence-based expert review of international evidence of best practice and of existing service development has been completed. It will be published before the summer and will inform the next stage of the policy review process.