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'Unsuitable' psychiatric hospital continuing to admit patients

A 19th century asylum in Portlaoise is continuing to admit new patients despite a national policy to shut down outdated facilities.

Image: David Cheskin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL deemed “unsuitable for a modern inpatient mental health service” in a recent inspection report is continuing to admit patients – despite a national policy to shut down outdated facilities.

Inspectors visiting St Fintan’s Hospital in Portlaoise in March found the institution has been admitting new patients, with bed numbers rising from 27 to 43 between 2008 and 2012.

The centre has been licensed by the Mental Health Commission for 42 beds. However, a report compiled by the Inspector of Mental Health Services recently recommended that the 19th century asylum be closed down as soon as possible.

The State’s metal healthcare watchdog, the Mental Health Commission, welcomed the cessation of new admissions to outdated institutions earlier this year.

The recent report found that while staff were caring and well-educated, the facilities at the hospital were not fit for use with wards labelled “old-fashioned and institutionalised”. A more recent report underlined deteriorating conditions at the hospital’s rehabilitation ward.

As well as mould, damp and leaking roofs, the inspection found that not all patients had a choice regarding their main meal or access to clean drinking water. Staffing levels at the rehabilitation and psychiatry-of-old-age team were deemed inadequate, and there was also a lack of multi-disciplinary staff, the report found.

The report stated that no clear plans to close the hospital had emerged.

Read: 347 psychiatric patients received electro-shock therapy in 2010>

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