Multiple failures in care of patients at Portlaoise psychiatric unit

Lynda Kiernan


Lynda Kiernan

Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise where the psychiatric unit has failed to meet a dozen regulations or codes

Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise where the psychiatric unit has failed to meet a dozen regulations or codes

Strict rules keeping some Portlaoise psychiatric patients in pyjamas and without mobile phones are “demeaning” a new report has found.

A dozen failures to meet mental health regulations, acts or codes, have been listed in a report of the acute psychiatric unit in Portlaoise hospital, by Dr Susan Finnerty, an Inspector of Mental Health Services.

Her report, published by the Mental Health Commission, found that patients in the 46 bed unit have little access to recreation and therapy and experience a lack of privacy.

"Residents in the high observation unit were only permitted to wear night clothing, which did not ensure that their privacy and dignity was respected at all times,” the report found.

"There was no evidence that all residents in high-obs were individually risk assessed as to whether personal phones presented a risk or there was a risk of absconsion," it said.

The building itself poses dangers to suicidal patients, and was found to be unclean and poorly maintained in places. 

“Ligature points in the approved centre had not been minimised despite the fact that the ligature audit had identified a number of significant ligature risks that required removal”.

The unit also failed to comply with rules on Electro-convulsive therapy, physical restraint and seclusion.

Four children were admitted to the adult ward in the last year, but there was no age appropriate facilities or activities provided for them.

Not all staff were properly trained, while there was no Risk Manager to assess any issues for risks.

The report was done following an inspection team that visited the unit and interviewed staff and patients this year.

It was found to be non compliant in 12 categories five of them rated as high risk.

The unit on the ground floor of Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise serves Laois and Offaly with 10 of the beds reserved for Kildare and West Wicklow.

Compliance with regulations, rules and codes of practice has remained static since 2016 at approximately 70%.

There were positives reported. Compliance on regulations over religion, visitors and complaints procedures were all rated excellent.

“Since 2016, there was a significant improvement in clinical governance.” the report also said.

The unit is now undertaking corrective actions to become compliant.