Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health and Disabilities, Colm Keaveney TD, has called on Minister Kathleen Lynch to immediately intervene and investigate why the concerns raised by 9 consultant psychiatrists regarding 13 deaths in state mental health services remain largely ignored.
Deputy Keaveney was responding to another internal HSE report, which backs up the considerable concerns raised by these consultant psychiatrists into failures in care regarding the 13 deaths.
“Today’s report in RTE’s ‘This Week’ Programme reinforces the grave concerns the nine consultant psychiatrics have with the clinical Management System in the HSE South East area. It is clear that the Governance structures for mental health services in the Carlow/Kilkenny area are broken and in need of an overhaul. The risks to patient health have been identified but not acknowledged and the clinical structures are doing nothing to address these.
“It is obvious the system is not fit for purpose and this has been raised directly with Minister Kathleen Lynch who has not acted in any meaningful way.
“A worryingly high percentage of deaths in the state’s mental health services are going unreported, I have continuously raised this issue with both Minister Kathleen Lynch and former Health Minister James Reilly. In fact, I questioned Minister Reilly about this a number of months ago and he was equally alarmed that less than 25% of deaths in care were reported in accordance with legislative requirements.
“What did Minister Reilly or Lynch do in the meantime to act on two HSE audits which highlighted the deficiencies in the system? There are a total of 18 recommendations between the two audits, have action plans to address these recommendations been completed?
“How many more of these tragic reports have to be commissioned before Minister Lynch takes decisive and corrective action? The Minister has been in possession of these startling figures for months and I have seen no progress at all in addressing them.
“The Nine prominent consultant psychiatrists have written to Minister Kathleen Lynch saying they have no faith in the Clinical Management System. If the clinical leaders of the system have no faith in it, then what hope is there for the service users?
“As a state we are badly failing people with mental health problems that come to our institutions for help. There are no sanctions at present for health care staff that do not follow their statutory obligations to report deaths or serious incidences to the Mental Health Commission. Until we do so, more and more people will be lost in a system that is there to protect them.”