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Roscommon mental health services failed to report risk of 'inappropriate sexual behaviour'

A report was was commissioned into the services after allegations of sexual exploitation at one of its facilities.

Image: KieferPix via Shutterstock

A REVIEW OF the Roscommon mental health services – which was commissioned after allegations of sexual exploitation at one of its facilities – has found there were failings to report and manage sexual behaviour.

In the report published this afternoon, an independent review team said the overall service provided was not based on proper support mechanisms, effective teamwork, growth or professional development, or delivering a quality and safe service.

The report concluded that some senior staff normalised bad behaviour, while other perpetrated it.

The team visited nine different mental health facilities in Roscommon during the review process.

It found that there was a “failure to formally assess, accurately document and manage the risk of sexual and inappropriate behaviour and the risk of sexual exploitation”, after an initial incident on 26 March 2014.

‘Frustrated and disillusioned’

The review found that the majority of staff interviewed felt “frustrated, disillusioned and unsupported” within the multidisciplinary team setting.

The review team found allegations made by a small number of staff in relation to a malicious campaign of conspiracy by some of their co-workers during the inquiry.

It also found that a small number of staff members refused satisfactorily to cooperate with the review, arguing that the team “lacked independence and had prejudged its conclusions”.

“This lack of engagement and cooperation by those senior members of staff has been disappointing. Their engagement may have afforded the team an opportunity to better understand the causes and extent of dysfunction within the Roscommon MHS,” the report noted.

Financial difficulties

The report was critical of the excessive financial focus of the service, “to the detriment of its staff’s working conditions, patient care and patient and staff safety”.

The team determined that such negative aspects of the system’s culture were not “present everywhere in the system all of the time, far from it, but their existence anywhere means that there is an insufficiently shared positive culture… to change that, there needs to be a relentless focus on the patient’s interests and the obligation to keep patients safe and protected from substandard care”.

Amidst the negative findings, the report acknowledged that the HSE’s interim appointment of an area manager has provided a much-needed focus to the service organisation and has “undoubtedly” brought with it a renewed synergy.

Recommendations

The team has provided 27 recommendations to the Roscommon Mental Health Services and concluded:

It is the team’s wish that this report can be used to enhance service provision, instill confidence in staff and encourage patients to help shape the service rather than be passive recipients of care.

“The emphasis for the future should be on commitment to shared values throughout the system which have been agreed by all stakeholders and interested parties.”

Read: “One of RTÉ’s finest” – Former TV news presenter Don Cockburn has died

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