Mental health units in Merlin come under fire in new report

An aerial view of the Merlin Park hospital campus.
An aerial view of the Merlin Park hospital campus.

Aspects of two Galway mental health units in Merlin Park were found to be substandard by the Mental Health Commission, which identified two areas of “critical non-compliance” with the regulations – the worst mark that can be issued by the regulator.

The inspection of Woodview – a 21-bed unit in Merlin Park University Hospital – had one critical risk rating for premises and one high-risk rating for ordering, prescribing, storing and administration of medicines.

Food safety audits were not carried out regularly, and hygiene was not adequately maintained to support food safety requirements. The area under the stainless steel kitchen units was dirty, and the kitchen required a deep clean.

The centre was in a poor state of repair – some external and bedroom lights were not working, a handle was missing on a wardrobe, a showerhead was out of order, there was cracked and peeling paint on windowsills, skirting boards and walls, and decaying wood found.

“The approved centre was not free from offensive smells, as two toilets were malodorous, with one toilet being particularly pungent. Inadequate ventilation of these areas contributed to this malodour.”

The Commission issued an ‘Immediate Action Notice’ to address these concerns and most had been addressed apart from a requirement to ensure an appropriate mix of qualified staff. The unit had sought additional posts which had yet to be filled.

Inspector of Mental Health Services for the Mental Health Commission, Dr Susan Finnerty, pointed out that there had been no significant improvement in compliance with regulations, rules and codes of practice over the past three years. Compliance in 2016 was 61 per cent; in 2017, it was 73 per cent; and in 2018, compliance was 68 per cent.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Inpatient Unit at Merlin Park also had a critical risk rating in relation to risk management.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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