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New National Forensic Mental Health Service Opened

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, and Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, have officially opened the new National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) in Portrane, Co. Dublin heralding a new era in mental health services and forensic mental health in Ireland.

The relocation of the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) in Dundrum to this new state of the art, purpose-built facility, delivers on a Programme for 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.

Speaking at the official opening Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said, “this is a significant and historic day for the Irish health service. This fantastic new facility brings real and necessary change to the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society. This 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. This realises the vision, efforts and hopes of so many people over so many years – those who work in our mental health services, those who use those services and those who have advocated tirelessly on their behalf.”

The new Portrane facility will replace the 172-year-old Central Mental Hospital (CMH) in Dundrum with a National Forensic Mental Health Service. When fully operational the facility will provide care for 170 patients on campus.

The NFMHS will provide a national tertiary mental health service. It will work with local mental health services in every part of the country and outreach to prisons/courts via the Prison In-Reach and Court liaison Service (PICLS) for those with high-level mental health difficulties. The new facility (includes a new 130-bed CMH, 30-bed Intensive Care Rehabilitation Unit (ICRU) and 10-bed Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (FCAMHS) unit.

Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, said, “this is a positive day for mental health service delivery in Ireland. Today’s opening sees us deliver on the Programme for Government commitment to open the new National Forensic Mental Health Service in Portrane. This is one of the most modern forensic mental health facilities in Europe and it presents new opportunities to deliver the highest quality care and outcomes for some of the most complex and vulnerable mental health cases in Ireland. It represents the biggest health capital project ever outside of the Acute General hospital system with a cost of over €200 million.”

“Importantly, for people using the service and their families, the new facility will support the enhanced delivery of person-centred care underpinned by human rights. I welcome in particular a designated new female-only unit in line with best national and international practice. I look forward to the full roll out as soon as possible of the 30-bed Intensive Care Rehabilitation Unit (ICRU) and the 10-bed forensic CAMHS unit which are the first of their kind in Ireland. They are due to open on a phased basis over 2023 – 2024.”

The design concept for the new facility is to support the underlying roles of therapeutic care and security with dignity, delivering a unique world class hospital embodying the best principles of high secure mental healthcare design.

Speaking during this morning’s opening, Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, said, “I welcome the opening of the new mental health hospital. People with severe mental health difficulties can also experience addiction issues, referred to as dual diagnosis. Improving mental health services for prisoners with dual diagnosis is part of developing integrated care pathways for high-risk drug users, which is a strategic priority in the national drugs strategy. I hope the new facility will facilitate a joined-up approach by professionals providing healthcare for prisoners affected by dual diagnosis. There is an opportunity to link this health service with the HSE dual diagnosis clinical programme, so that prisoners can continue to be supported by specialist mental health services in the community upon their release.”


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