realitycheck(dot)ie

Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Central Mental Hospital

The Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum has been in the news recently with regard to its proposed move to the new prison complex. The reasons given by Dan Neville of Fine Gael and the Irish College of Psychiatrists against the proposed move make some sense. I spent this morning on a visit to the Central Mental Hospital - I was horrified by the human rights abuses that still go on - the majority of the patients there have not committed any criminal acts, and those that did were under the influence of mental illness at the time - and their facilities leave so much to be desired. It is a large Victorian building built in 1850, the first forensic hospital built in the British Isles. From what I saw it hasn't changed that much since. All patients in high and medium security have their doors locked at 830 pm and are re-opened at 830 am. Toilet facilities are a bucket which must be "slopped out" by the patient in the morning. It is only when you stand in one of the "cell" like bedrooms that you realise how systematically dehumanising these conditions are. Obviously patients at high suicide risk must be kept in spartan conditions for their own safety but those with mental illness deserve much much more than this.
The Central Mental Hospital has made many advances in treatment in recent years with the introduction of individualised care plans and a multidisciplinary team approach but these old fashioned conditions are not good enough. I appreciate that further stigmatisation of those with severe mental illness will probably follow if they are housed inside the new prison complex but the facilities that are currently been used need to be modernised urgently.
Dan Neville lists many other problems with the Irish Psychiatric Services in this Dail debate transcript (about a 1/5th of the page down).

In other medical related stuff, I posted a comment at atlanticblog's post about the further developments in the Sachs story following the tragic death of Kay Cregan. While I agree with what he says about RTE's sloppiness, it is not as simple as injecting more competition into all areas of Irish medicine.

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October 12, 2005 7:54 a.m.  

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