Permission has been granted by An Bord Pleanala to build a new hospital in Dublin, which will replace the existing Central Mental Hospital (CMH).
The new facility will be built in Portrane in Co Dublin and will consist of a 120-bed National Forensic Hospital, which will replace the CMH, a 10-bed mental health intellectual disability unit and a 10-bed child and adolescent mental health unit.
"The new facility should become operational in 2018. Patients, their families and staff will benefit from transferring from an antiquated building to state-of the-art facilities in a new modern forensic setting," commented the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar.
The CMH, which is currently located in Dublin's Dundrum, has been the subject of major criticism over the years. The 19th century building has long been considered unfit for its purpose and in 2005, it was the subject of a scathing report by the Inspector of Mental Health Services, based on inspections carried out in November 2004.
The inspector expressed serious concerns about a number of issues, including ‘slopping out', which is when patients have to use disposable pots to go to the toilet and then empty these pots in the morning, the inappropriate use of seclusion and the locking of patients into their rooms at night.
Bu 2007, while the practice of ‘slopping out' had ceased, a report from the Mental Health Commission (MHC) revealed that patients who needed to use the toilets were often kept waiting for long periods of time in locked bedrooms. Other issues included the continued use of inappropriate seclusion.
Meanwhile, a 2013 MHC report criticised the fact that five of the old 19th century psychiatric hospital buildings were still open and housing patients, including the CMH.
Minister Varadkar insisted that the granting of planning permission for this new hospital is a major developing in the area of mental health.
"Looking after our mental health is as important as minding our physical health. Those who need help with their mental health are right to expect treatment in modern conditions. This new state-of-the-art facility will go a long way to meet that demand. It's an important milestone on our path to providing modern mental healthcare," he said.