Press Release

Minister Tim O’Malley welcomes the publication of the Report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals

Mr Tim O’Malley, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, has today (8th September 2004) welcomed the publication of the Annual Report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals for the year ending 31st December 2003.  Copies were laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and a copy was forwarded to the President of the High Court.

“I welcome the publication of the Report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals for 2003 and acknowledge the important work of the Inspectorate in providing an accurate and independent account of national services in the mental health sector”, the Minister said.

In his report for 2003, the Inspector highlights the continuing decline in the number of patients in psychiatric in-patient facilities, from 3,966 at the end of 2002 to 3,701 at the end of 2003.  He also notes the further increases in the provision of community facilities, such as day services and community residences.  Referring to the changing models of service delivery, the Inspector indicates that only a small number of services have evolved towards an up-to-date model of out-reach and home-based care provision with the majority still operating partially developed conservative community models.

The Inspector outlines some significant developments during 2003, including the opening of new acute psychiatric units at St. LukeÂ’s General Hospital, Kilkenny and at Castlebar General Hospital, Mayo and notes that three further psychiatric units will be opened shortly.

Minister O’Malley also referred to the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, which was established in August 2003 to prepare a new national policy framework for the mental health services.  “It is acknowledged that a new policy framework is needed, to take account of recent legislative reform, innovative developments in the care and treatment of mental illness and the views of those who use the services, as well as those who work within them”, the Minister added.  It is envisaged that the Expert Group will examine, inter alia, models of care, the respective roles of medication and complementary therapies, measures to reduce stigma and psychiatric services for specialised groups such as the homeless, prisoners, children/adolescents and those attending learning disability services.  The Group has undertaken an extensive consultation process with interested parties and is expected to report in 2005.

As this is the final report of the current Inspectorate the Minister paid tribute to its work over the years.  The existing office of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals has now been replaced by that of the Inspector of Mental Health Services, who is employed by the Mental Health Commission.

“As the Inspector of Mental Hospitals, Dr. Dermot Walsh, and his colleagues Dr. Liam Hanniffy and Mr. Michael Hughes step down to make way for the Mental Health Commission and the new Inspectorate, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to them for their tireless efforts to improve standards and conditions in the countryÂ’s psychiatric services.  They have done Trojan work in the inspection of mental health services over the past number of years and their excellent reports have had significant influence on the development of our mental health services. I look forward to working with Dr. Walsh in the future”, the Minister said.