Dáil Éireann - Volume 492 - 16 June, 1998

Written Answers. - Mental Hospitals Report.

50. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans, if any, he has to implement the recommendations of the 1996 report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14241/98]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): The inspector of mental hospitals has a statutory obligation to inspect each psychiatric hospital and unit in the country at least once a year and to submit a report to the Minister in this respect. Once an inspection has taken place, a detailed report of the inspection, along with the inspector's recommendations, are forwarded to the chief executive officer of the responsible health board. In each case, a response with regard to the implementation of the inspector's recommendations is requested.

The publication of the annual reports of the inspectorate have had a major impact in bringing about change in how we care for people with mental illness. In his 1996 report, the inspector highlights and is complimentary of further improvements which have taken place in the mental health services. The inspector notes that the continued development in 1996 of a comprehensive and integrated community-based mental health service was characterised by the ongoing reduction in the number of patients resident in [818] psychiatric hospitals through rehabilitation of long stay patients, the transfer of acute psychiatric hospital care to acute psychiatric units in general hospitals and the further extension of community based services.

In his 1996 report, the inspector also makes recommendations for the improvement of services in each catchment area. The recommendations are being considered and implemented by the health boards on an ongoing basis.