The long-awaited new Central Mental Hospital in Portrane, Dublin opens today.
The facility was completed in 2020 but the arrival of patients was repeatedly delayed because of staffing issues; it replaces the existing Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum which has come in for criticism in recent years.
“We’ve been actively engaged with the development of this facility to ensure that it operates at the highest international standard and it meets the needs of service users, their families and staff,” said Peter Hughes who is General Secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association.
“The service users are moving from a Victorian building to a very modern complex.”
Aside from the National Children’s Hospital, it is the State’s largest capital health project. However, initially, only 110 out of the 170 will be in use because of staffing shortages.
Mr Hughes said the Government needs to match its capital spending with spending on staffing levels.
“I think there needs to be a very robust workforce plan,” he said.
“We’ve been calling for this for the last number of months; it hasn’t been established yet. I think this has to be taken seriously.
“We welcome this facility, it’s a great investment but we need to put the resources in.”
Earlier this year, a report concluded that the facility in Dundrum was “not fit for purpose for the care and treatment of service users”.
There were three high-risk non-compliance issues - most of which were due to the state of the building.
“Many of the aspects criticised in the Central Mental Hospital report are down to the unsuitable premises that this centre continues to operate in,” the Inspector of Mental Health Services Dr Susan Finnerty said.
“The sooner the Portrane centre is registered and starts to admit patients, the better for all concerned.”