New Central Mental Hospital finally opens in Portrane

Govt need to manage urgent recruitment drive

by Rose Barrett
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Finally, the new Central Mental Hospital opened today in Portrane, the official opening having been delayed owing to staff shortages.  

The facility which has the capacity for 170 beds is a purpose-built amenity replacing the old Victorian mental hospital in Dundrum, dating back to the 1850s.

It will further cater for community and prison in-reach services. Furthermore, A Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (FCAMHS) and an Intensive Care Rehabilitation Unit (ICRU) will also be located on site.

Costing €200m, the new facility is second only to the National Children’s Hospital in terms of state investment in medical care provision.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD and Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy Frank Feighan TD officially opened the new National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) in Portrane earlier today.

The opening heralds a new era in mental health services and forensic mental health in Ireland.

The HSE stated the new hospital offers not only increased capacity but also the most up to date facilities which meet the highest international standards.

The relocation of the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) in Dundrum to this new state of the art, purpose-built facility on campus in Portrane, delivers on a Programme of Government commitment and is a key objective of Sharing the Vision, the national mental health policy.

Completion of this new facility underpins the update of the Mental Health Act 2001 and is a major achievement in the development of mental health services. 

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. 

Pat Bergin, Head of Services at National Forensic Mental Health Service at the HSE said: “This is a welcome day for patients, family/ carers and our staff as this new facility provides us with opportunities to be a world leader in this specialist field.

 “We now have the opportunity to be a centre of excellence and evolve our delivery of treatment and care for patients further.”

He noted the increased capacity will help to address previous challenges with extensive waiting lists and the purpose-built facility will provide modern care and treatment in this area.

However, initially only 110 out of the 170 beds will be in use because of continued staffing shortages. 

Peter Hughes, General Secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, told national media that this government must invest in a ‘robust’ recruitment drive to properly staff the facility.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, TD stated: “This fantastic new facility brings real and necessary change to the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“Today’s opening reiterates the government’s commitment that healthcare to this vulnerable group should be delivered on the same values, principles and approaches that apply to all others in society.”

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