Opening of new mental health services at St Ita’s Portrane continues a proud history in care

by Rose Barrett
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For Cllr Adrian Henchy, the opening of the new National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) on Friday last at St Ita’s, Portrane struck so many emotional chords.

The Fianna Fail council representative for the Rush-Lusk, Portrane-Donabate area was in fact born and raised in the grounds of the former St Ita’s hospital campus.

Did that background steer a young Adrian towards mental health care? For Cllr Henchy is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Mental Health and recognised the need for a new state of the art, modern facility to meet international standards of care in mental health.

“It was a great privilege and honour to be in attendance last Friday for the official opening of the new NFMHS in Portrane by Ministers Donnelly, Butler, Browne and Feighan,” he said. “I was immensely proud to represent my local communities of Portrane and Donabate who have played an integral role in the building and delivery of this major new National Healthcare facility.

“St. Ita’s and Portrane has an incredible track record and proud history in both Mental Health and wider healthcare for some of the most vulnerable individuals and groups in our society and I’m in no doubt this will continue into the future with the opening of this world-class healthcare campus in Portrane. 

“As a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Mental Health and someone who grew up inside the grounds of St Ita’s, I was so proud of Friday’s historic milestone for both Fingal and for Ireland.

“I’m in no doubt that Portrane as a community will continue to excel as a welcoming, caring environment for individuals and groups from some of our most vulnerable within society.”

He continued: “This has been an enormous capital development that got underway in 2015 and I want to very much recognise and pay tribute to the wider communities of Portrane and Donabate for its patience, understanding and compassion for this major healthcare development. 

“Relocation of the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) to new state of the art, purpose-built facility here is a major achievement in the development of mental health services in Ireland.  

“The National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) will provide care for 170 patients on campus, as well as community and prison in-reach services. A Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (FCAMHS) and an Intensive Care Rehabilitation Unit (ICRU) will also be located on site.”

Cllr Henchy noted that the NFMHS is one of the most modern internationally and is the biggest health capital project outside of the Acute General hospitals system, costing over €200m. The completion of the new facility delivers on a Programme of Government commitment re Sharing the Vision, the national mental health policy.

The new forensic campus enables the provision of a modern forensic mental health service and it provides a network of forensic facilities to allow proper and timely intervention. 

The new Portrane facility replaces the 172-year-old Central Mental Hospital (CMH) in Dundrum with a National Forensic Mental Health Service. When fully operational the facility will provide care for 170 patients on campus albeit owing to staff shortages, only 110 beds will be open. 

The NFMHS will work with local mental health services in every part of the country and outreach to prisons/courts via the Prison In-Reach and Court liaison Service (PICLS) for those with high-level mental health difficulties.

The new facility includes a new 130-bed CMH, 30-bed Intensive Care Rehabilitation Unit (ICRU) and 10-bed Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (FCAMHS) unit.

The design concept for the new facility is to support the underlying roles of therapeutic care and security with dignity, delivering a unique world class hospital embodying the best principles of high secure mental healthcare design. 

It will provide an environment that positively supports patient recovery and will also: 

  • Ensure that patients are living in accommodation appropriate to their needs, risks and modern healthcare standards
  • Improve the quality of life of the patients and carers using services
  • Increase the number of high and medium secure beds in accordance with international comparisons and national need
  • Deliver specialist secure care for MHID‐F & CAMH-F patients
  • Modernise and improve clinical practice
  • Reduce the operating costs of the service pro rata and reduce costs to the HSE for placement of patients in the UK, prisons and other HSE services

“I just felt so privileged to have been able to attend Friday’s official opening of this superb new NFMHS in Portrane marking a new era in mental health care in Ireland,” concluded Cllr Henchy.

See also

Feature photo shows Cllr Paul Mulville and Cllr Adrian Henchy at Friday’s opening of the new NFMHS facility in Portrane.

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