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Report finds serious breaches in Mayo Adult Mental Health Unit


Anton McNulty

A REPORT of the Adult Mental Health Unit at Mayo University Hospital found that difficulties in staff recruitment has contributed to a lack of services for patients.
The Mental Health Commission (MHC) report of the Adult Mental Health Unit in Castlebar found that the standard of developing individual care plans for residents was rated as a ‘critical risk’. Other areas judged to be a critical risk were therapeutic services and programmes, staffing and consent to treatment.
The inspectorate found that there was insufficient therapeutic programmes in place to meet residents’ assessed and identified needs. There was no dedicated occupational therapist, residents did not have access to a dietitian and there were not enough occupational therapy staff, psychology staff and social-work staff.
The report found that while funding was available for vacant posts in these disciplines, difficulties had occurred within the staff-recruitment process.
There were also safety concerns identified in the report. These included radiators that had not been cleaned for six months and were considered a fire hazard. The inspection team identified numerous ligature risks (items that could be used for strangulation) throughout the approved 32-bed centre.

Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers described the report as alarming and asked how the situation had been allowed to get so bad.
“It is alarming to read the report which identified critical risks to patients at Mayo University Hospital. It is extremely concerning that there were not enough therapeutic programmes in place and staff shortages were limiting occupational therapy, psychology and social work services.
“Fortunately, there has been no serious incidents with patients or staff that we know of. However, this was a real possibility and entirely preventable. Serious questions must be answered by HSE management and the Department. I understand corrective measures have been taken. However, we have to question how it was allowed to get to this state,” she said.
The report also found that under the codes of practice for admission, transfer and discharge, the centre had a ‘high risk’ rating, and while a cleaning schedule was in place, it was not implemented adequately: The premises were not clean, hygienic and free from offensive odours.
Rooms were not well ventilated and some of the dormitories and toilets were ‘malodorous at the time of the inspection’. There was rubbish on the floor in one toilet and towels on the floor in another.

Action plans
Ms Rosemary Smyth, Director of Standards and Quality Assurance for the Mental Health Commission, said they immediately requested a regulatory compliance meeting with senior management of the centre to discuss its concerns and how the service was addressing these issues. 
“Following the meeting the approved centre provided corrective and preventative action plans to deal with all areas of non-compliance. In three months we will seek an update to ensure that plans are being implemented,” she said.
There was better news for An Coillín, a 22-bed, single-storey building located on the grounds of St Mary’s Hospital in Castlebar, which continued to show a high levels of compliance with regulations and codes of practice. The one non-compliance that was rated as high risk related to the premises which was described as not being kept in a good state of repair internally. A number of issues were raised such as the lack of storage space for bedpans and clothes for the laundry were stored in the toilet facility.