Fingal Cllr questions un-opened CAHMS unit in Portrane

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

Cllr Paul Mulville (SD for Rush-Lusk) has questioned the un-opened 10 bed unit in St Ita’s in Portrane, following a recent and damning CAHMS report.

Cllr. Mulville said: “Last week’s stark report into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) casts serious doubts on the government’s commitment to opening the new 10-bed Forensic CAMHS Unit in Portrane anytime soon.”

He noted the independent review of CAMHS by the Inspector of Mental Health Services –  following a whistleblower speaking out – contains 49 recommendations one of which is that  “the HSE must expedite the opening of the 10-bed forensic unit in the National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) campus in Portrane, and that this should be done at the latest by 31 December 2023.”

However, the HSE confirmed to the Dublin Gazette this week the unit is not likely to open until the end of next year.

A spokesperson for the Health Executive said: “A new 10-bed Forensic CAMHS units has been completed within the National Forensic Mental Health Service in Portrane. This new facility is expected to be operational in Q3 2024, pending the recruitment of staff.

“It will be the first of its kind within the state and will offer ‘state of the art’ secure care facilities for young people up to the age of 18.”

Cllr Mulville stated the CAHMS independent review outlined the construction and completion at great cost to the public of the 10-bed Forensic CAMHS Unit at the National Forensic Mental Health Service Hospital in Portrane and noted that shockingly there are no plans to open the unit, due to difficulty in recruiting staff.

“We know that nurses and healthcare staff are facing major housing issues, as they are priced out of the housing market in Dublin, as highlighted already by the INMO, and that this is partly the reason it is so difficult to recruit nurses and healthcare staff,” added Cllr Mulville.

“The INMO rightly called for subsidised accommodation to be urgently provided for our frontline nursing and healthcare staff, with the Psychiatric Nurses Association specifically demanding subsidised accommodation to be urgently provided on the grounds of St Ita’s, Portrane.  

“This would help alleviate the staffing shortage facing the new National Forensic Mental Health Services hospital, including the unopened 10-bed Forensic CAMHS Unit, and also facing the existing intellectual disability service here.”

The HSE noted it has been proactive in addressing recruitment challenges by funding targeted initiatives from within mental health resources including engagement with colleges/training bodies and undergraduate students/new graduates to promote opportunities in health and social care professional roles within mental health services. It has invested €6m annually since 2016 to generate additional Nnurse training capacity, €1.5m annually since 2020 in a Higher Specialist Training course to train 40 additional consultant psychiatrist posts each year and €5m annually since 2016 to recruit 130 assistant psychology posts to help alleviate staffing shortages within mental health.

“In 2022, in line with Sharing the Vision recommendations, an additional 50 posts were approved to continue to build capacity in CAMHS/Community Mental Health Teams through targeted recruitment of skilled, multi-disciplinary mental health professionals. Of these 34 WTEs are in post with the remaining 16 currently in the recruitment process.”

Cllr Mulville noted: “When Government Ministers arrived in Portrane last November to open the new hospital, particular reference was made to the new 10-bed forensic CAMHS unit.  Now let them do something about the recruitment problems bedevilling the unopened facility, and sanction subsidised accommodation for nursing and hospital staff in Portrane – by utilising the adjacent vacant historical buildings – but they must do it now!”

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