Mental health care is significantly better in the private sector than in HSE run facilities, the Mental Health Commission’s (MHC) annual report for 2021 has concluded.
All 10 independent and privately-run inpatient centres received above average compliance scores but there was only one single HSE area that scored higher than the privately operated facilities.
To John Farrelly, the commission’s CEO, it is an damning indictment of a system that desperately needs to improve:
“To become an inpatient means that you are at the lowest you will ever be in your life,” Mr Farrelly explained to Newstalk.
“It’s not fair that the independent and private sectors have this high standards in their buildings and in patient centred services and a lot of the HSE centres don’t.
“So it’s quite simple that the HSE… really needs to focus on the job to make sure all citizens in Ireland receive appropriate care.”
'Just aren’t good enough'
The report noted that the Government’s Sláintecare proposals means there is a vision and roadmap to improve mental health care in Ireland but that it needs to be matched with funding:
“We look at Cork for example though, the facilities just aren’t good enough,” Mr Farrelly continued.
“There needs to be a strategic funded plan to invest in the HSE services.
“The HSE also needs to make sure that they’re using that money wisely and keeping the buildings up to date.
“And then the HSE needs to come up to the standards of the independent sector, it needs to start delivering that on the ground and make sure that all the patients, all over Ireland, receive these services.”
The report also noted that the HSE continued to use too many “outdated, unsuitable buildings” and inspector Dr Susan Finnerty said this needs to change:
“Progress is slow on replacement of buildings or on renovations to bring them up to a modern standard,” she concluded.
“Of particular concern are risks in relation to fire safety and ligature anchor points. Inspectors’ findings in relation to these risks should be recognised and remedied by the service to make an approved centre safe.
“It should not be the case that service providers wait until the annual inspection identifies them and enforcement action takes place.
“Such knee-jerk response to adverse findings of an inspection does not indicate good governance.”
Main image: Stock image of a patient.