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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C

Dublin mental health centre issued with 'critical' risk rating by watchdog

The Jonathan Swift Clinic in Dublin was criticised by the Mental Health Commission.

CONDITIONS IN A Dublin mental health centre have been labelled as “critical”, according to a mental health watchdog. 

The Mental Health Commission, an independent body that regularly carries out inspections of mental health services, has criticised conditions at the Jonathan Swift Clinic at St James’s Hospital – pointing to premises that were not “kept in a good state of repair” and were not “clean” or “hygienic”. 

A critical rating is the worst rating the commission applies to risks in mental health centres. 

Across four centres inspected, inspectors issued one critical and 12 high risk ratings for non-compliance with regulations. 

Other areas in the Jonathan Swift Clinic, such as the approach to individual care plans and the administration of medicine, was also seen as high risk. 

The report, published today, was highly critical of one ward where residents found it difficult to access outdoor spaces because nurses were often not available to accompany them. 

This, the report said, “presented a serious risk to a resident’s quality of life and the therapeutic environment”. 

The commission, which spoke to nine residents during the inspection at St James’s, noted that it was aware that work was being carried out this month to improve furnishings in the clinic.

However, the report is still critical of the conditions and the approach to care and treatment in the centre. 

‘High risk ratings’ 

The Jonathan Swift Clinic was not the only centre to come in for criticism. St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin was labelled “high risk” in the areas of individual care planning and more generally the state of the premises.

The building, which is over 100 years old, “was not kept in a good state of repair”, according to the report. 

Inspectors found that rooms were not properly ventilated and old equipment had been left lying outside in a way that was “potentially hazardous”.

In terms of patient care, the inspectors noted that this was the third year in a row that the centre had failed to comply with individual care planning regulations. 

The centre, the inspectors found, had no social worker present on the team for six weeks. 


St Catherine’s Ward in St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork was found to be “high risk” in the areas of food and nutrition, individual care planning and privacy. 

Compliance with regulations, the report said, had failed to improve since the last inspection in 2017. 

One major issue identified by the inspectors was the lack of patient privacy. 

“Residents’ privacy and dignity was not respected. Single bedrooms, did not have locks on the inside of the door. The residents could not use their bedrooms, located downstairs, from early morning until approximately 10pm at night. If a resident preferred to sleep during this time they did so in an armchair,” the report said. 

One of the best-rated centres was Cappahard Lodge in Ennis, which had 15 long-term residents. The inspection praised improvements in the clinic in recent years and found that it had over 90% compliance with regulations. 

Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission, John Farrelly, said: “Governance was identified as an issue in two centres published today and risk management issues highlighted in another approved centre. This is unacceptable.”

“Healthcare teams must be accountable for the quality, safety and satisfaction of patients in the care they deliver,” he added. 

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