Inspection finds critical breach of regulations at UHG mental health unit

Galway Daily news Almost 1,000 patients on trolleys at UHG in February

An inspection by the Mental Health Commission found a critical breach of regulations at the UHG acute mental health unit for the inadequate provision of tribunal facilities.

The Acute Mental Health Unit at UHG is a purpose built, 50 bed psychiatric facility. It has been open for patients since last June and was officially opened this week.

An inspection of the facility was carried out by Dr Susan Finnerty with the MHC on July 18 after a complaint was received that month from a chairperson of a Mental Health Tribunal.

The complaint focused on the inadequate provision of facilities for the tribunal which respect the patient’s right to dignity.

The complaint said that the room was too small, windowless, and was not soundproofed, so that tribunal proceedings could be heard in the training room next to it.

While a prior inspection in November 2018 had found that the MHT room at the facility was “bright and spacious”, the location of MHTs had since been moved to a room other than the one at the time of registration the inspection found.

The new room was partitioned to provide space for both MHTs and a multi-purpose training room.

The summarised findings of the inspection said that “the Mental Health Tribunal room was not adequately sized, ventilated and soundproofed and that the facilities did not respect the dignity of the patient during the Mental Health Tribunal”.

“A narrow table with six chairs was in the centre of the room. The width of the table did not allow adequate personal space for people sitting opposite each other,” Dr Finnerty’s report said.

“There was insufficient space in the room for MHT members, the patient, his/her advocate, any attending nurses and the consultant psychiatrist.”

“There were no windows in the wall; there was a Velux style window in the ceiling, which could be opened remotely. The room was stuffy and hot at the time of the inspection.”

The facility was deemed non-compliant with regulations because it did not co-operate with MHTs in ensuring that the tribunal room wad adequately sized, ventilated, and soundproofed to protect patients’ dignity.