Admission of Children to Adult Psychiatric Wards

To ask the Minister for Health and Children the date on which the Government is required to halt the admission of children to adult psychiatric wards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Dan Neville

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. Moloney) addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. Moloney) by Deputy Dan Neville

for WRITTEN ANSWER on 12/10/2010

*To ask the Minister for Health and Children the date on which the Government is required to halt the admission of children to adult psychiatric wards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Dan Neville

REPLY.

The Mental Health Commission has issued a code of practice relating to the admission of children under the Mental Health Act 2001 which outlines arrangements and facilities that should be put in place to ensure the protection and safety of such children. An addendum to this code of practice was issued by the Commission in June 2009 and provides that;

a) No child under 16 years is to be admitted to an adult unit in an approved centre from 1st July 2009;

b) No child under 17 years is to be admitted to an adult unit in an approved centre from 1st December 2010; and

c) No child under 18 years is to be admitted to an adult unit in an approved centre from 1st December 2011.

If, in exceptional circumstances, a young person is admitted to an adult unit, the approved centre is obliged to submit a detailed report to the Mental Health Commission outlining why the admission has taken place. The Commission reviews any such notifications received and follows up as appropriate.

The HSE has prioritised the development of mental health services for children and adolescents. During 2009, bed capacity for children and adolescents almost doubled, bringing the total number of in-patient beds to 30. In addition, two new 20 bed units at Bessboro, Cork and Merlin Park, Galway are due to open before the end of the year, and this will increase capacity to 52 beds. A child should of course only be admitted as a psychiatric in-patient as a last resort and should as far as possible receive the necessary treatment in the community. To this end there are now 55 consultant led child and adolescent teams in place throughout the country and a further 8 teams are in development. In addition, work commenced recently on the Linn Dara, Child and Adolescent Facility at Cherry Orchard, Dublin, which will provide a day hospital as well as accommodation for mental health teams and administrative staff, and training and library facilities. It is anticipated that these developments will greatly reduce the need to admit young people to adult units.