Press Release

Minister Moloney responds to Mental Health Commission report

John Moloney TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Disability & Mental Health, today (Friday 3 April) responded to the publication by the Mental Health Commission of the Report of the Committee of Inquiry to Review Care and Treatment Practices in St. Michael’s Unit, South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel and St. Luke’s Hospital Clonmel, including the Quality and Planning of Care and the Use of Restraint and Seclusion.

“This report has highlighted very serious issues about standards of care and treatment in the mental health services in Clonmel. Aspects of the service provision described are totally unacceptable in a modern mental health service and they will be addressed without delay”, the Minister said. “I am pleased that the HSE has accepted the Inquiry Team’s findings and that it is finalising a detailed implementation plan to address the recommendations in the report. The implementation plan includes the development of a range of new facilities, to be funded from the sale of hospital lands, which will enable St Luke’s Hospital to close. The process of closure has already commenced, with two wards in the hospital closed already and patients moved to more appropriate accommodation in the community.”

“The publication of this report by the Mental Health Commission shows that the systems put in place by the Mental Health Act, 2001 to promote high standards and good practices in our mental health services are working.”the Minister said “The importance of the independent role of the Mental Health Commission and the Inspector of Mental Health Services in this regard cannot be overestimated and I would like to commend the Commission and the Inquiry Team for their persistence in bringing this report to a conclusion.”The Minister also welcomed the fact that the Commission is now proposing to make use of its powers under the Mental Health Act to attach conditions to the continued operation of the two units in Clonmel and that the Inspector of Mental Health Services will continue to inspect them regularly and monitor developments closely.

The Minister added that the HSE would have the full support of his Office for Disability and Mental Health in reforming the mental health services in South Tipperary. “I am advised that sufficient staffing resources are already in place in the region to enable the adult mental health services to be reconfigured and re-organised in line with Government policy as set out in ‘A Vision for Change’.

“The findings of this report send out a clear message that we need to implement A Vision for Change urgently, not just in Clonmel, but nationwide. As well as investment in infrastructure there must be changes in work practices. Structural barriers to reform, whatever their source, will be tackled. The most effective way to bring that about would be for the HSE to assign a senior person at national level with specific responsibility for delivering on reform in the mental health services and I have conveyed my views on that issue directly to Professor Drumm”,the Minister added.

“Since my appointment as Minister of State, I have visited nine of the twelve psychiatric hospitals which are earmarked for closure. In January of this year, on the 3rd anniversary of A Vision for Change, I publicly committed myself to the delivery of the reforms and to the use of the proceeds from the sale of mental health lands to fund the necessary infrastructure. Since that time, I have been working closely with the HSE and with officials to identify asset values and put together a comprehensive programme which will enable us to deliver on the commitments in A Vision for Change. I expect to see progress on this issue in the coming months”the Minister concluded.