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'Not good enough' - mental health watchdog on filthy units

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Inspector Susan Finnerty

Inspector Susan Finnerty

Inspector Susan Finnerty

The plight of patients with mental illness being treated in public psychiatric units that are dirty, run down, urine-soaked and surrounded by offensive odours is revealed in a damning report by a watchdog today.

The annual report of the Mental Health Commission says too many patients with psychiatric illness are being treated like second-class citizens.

It reveals a litany of neglect in many units, including dirty seclusion rooms, unclean bathroom facilities, discarded cigarette butts, litter in the outdoor areas, kitchen areas that appeared contaminated, urine-soaked panels and floors and bad odours.

Inspectors found patients trying to recover from mental illness were living in units with chipped floor coverings and damaged ceilings, broken showers, cigarette burn marks and holes in the walls.

Ten centres were found that were not adequately lit, heated or ventilated.

"It is simply not good enough that people who are extremely unwell are forced to reside or recover in wards or rooms that are unclean, malodorous or poorly maintained," said chief inspector Susan Finnerty.

Overlooked

The commission's chief executive John Farrelly said: "Too many mental health residents in Ireland are still being treated like second-class citizens whose fundamental human rights continue to be overlooked."

While overall average national compliance with regulations was recorded at 78pc, many mental-health residents are still being admitted to outdated and unclean premises without a meaningful care plan essential to their recovery.

Commission chairman John Saunders called on the new Government to pledge the necessary resources to implement the blueprint for the mental- health services. There were 54 children and adolescents who ended up in 15 adult units.

Dr Finnerty said: "Children and young people should not be admitted to adult units except in exceptional circumstances.

"There are just six child and adult mental health units in the country, located in just three counties nationally, and apart from two of these they do not take out-of-hours admissions."