THE Mental Health Commission (MHC) has said that Carrigmore psychiatric facility in Cork, which caters for 18 vulnerable patients, is “not fit for purpose”.
The MHC is seeking to enforce regulations on the HSE in relation to the facility and disputed issues between the two state bodies are to be dealt with at a specially fixed case at Cork District Court.
Judge Marian O’Leary said she would contact the president of the district court to allocate a judge for a special hearing of the case which it is estimated could take two days.
Catherine Kelleher, solicitor for the HSE, asked Judge Marian O’Leary to assign a judge to hear the matter over an estimated two days at Cork District Court. Ms Kelleher said the HSE would engage with the MHC in the meantime to see if certain issues could be agreed in advance of a hearing.
Both sides agreed the matter is urgent.
Donal O’Sullivan, barrister for the MHC, said: “There is a huge degree of urgency to it. The MHC is the regulatory authority which regulates properties, including Carrigmore.
“The situation is that it holds 18 particularly vulnerable people. Unfortunately, the physical reality is that my client carries out inspections and there is serious concern about the physical building — it is not fit for purpose for what they are doing.
“I am not saying the building is falling down. But what it is used for is not appropriate and suitable.
“In fairness to the HSE, they have shown us new plans. But planning has not even been applied for.
“The difficulty that arises is that we have put a new condition on the regulation — it will restrict new admissions to the premises. We are very concerned about the safety of people in the facility because of an incident in February.”
Ms Kelleher said there were sensitive issues which should not be ventilated at a preliminary hearing that was only being mentioned in order to fix a date for hearing.
Carrigmore was previously known as St Anne’s and the HSE has multimillion-euro plans to develop it, but first had to deal with this issue being raised in relation to the regulation of the facility by MHC, Ms Kelleher said.
She said the patients in the facility were very vulnerable and included some who were a huge risk to themselves and sometimes to others.
Mr O’Sullivan said of the HSE: “They have identified problems but they don’t really say what they are going to do about it.”