The HSE officially opened the National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) on Friday 4 November in Portrane, Co Dublin.
The relocation of the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) in Dundrum to this new state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility is Ireland’s largest capital project and cost in the region of €200m. According to the HSE, it is a major achievement in the development of mental health services.
For the last 175 years, the CMH was the only centre in the Republic to provide specialist forensic psychiatric treatment for acute, medium and longer-term psychiatric care, with a capacity of 96 patients.
Now, the new facility will provide care for 130 patients, and has capacity to care for 170 patients on the campus when it is fully operational in the future, as well as community and prison in-reach services. The hospital also has a Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (FCAMHS) and an Intensive Care Rehabilitation Unit (ICRU) on site.
The design concept for the new facility in Portrane is to support the underlying roles of therapeutic care and security with dignity, delivering a hospital that is to embody the best principles of high secure mental healthcare design.
Head of the NFMHS, Mr Pat Bergin also confirmed to the Medical Independent that all of the staff in the CMH will be relocated to the new facility in Portrane.
The 130 single patient bedrooms are laid out in small wards around shared indoor and outdoor spaces, in which collective activities and therapies take place. A ‘village centre’ provides shared recreational facilities, including a horticultural area, a gym, a woodwork workshop and a music room, while a series of courtyards and secure perimeter gardens allow patients direct access to nature from each ward. The village centre also houses mental health therapeutic services, a GP and a dentist.
Speaking at the official opening today, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly said: “Today 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.”
” There are… too many people in our justice system, in our court system, in our prison system, who are there primarily because of addiction issues and/or because of mental health issues,” he said at the launch today. “[The new facility is] an upgrade in services, it’s a new model of care. It’s additional improvements, [and] additional services underpinned by something really important, which is a fundamental shift in mindsets and shifts in philosophy.”
Head of Service at NFMHS, Mr Patrick Bergin said: “The opening of the Central Mental Hospital in Portrane as part of the National Forensic Mental Health Service is a key milestone in the delivery of a modern forensic service to our patients. We now have the opportunity to be a centre of excellence and evolve our delivery of treatment and care for patients further. This is a welcome day for patients, family, carers and our staff and this new facility provides us with opportunities to be a world leader in this specialist field.”
The NFMHS will also offer five clusters of forensic mental health care, including a Pre-discharge Unit, a Female Unit, a Mental Health Intellectual Disability Unit (MHID‐F), a High Secure Unit and a Medium Secure Unit.
It will provide an environment that positively supports patient recovery and will also:
- Ensure that patients are living in accommodation appropriate to their needs, risks and modern healthcare standards
- Improve the quality of life of the patients and carers using our services
- Increase the number of high and medium secure beds in accordance with international comparisons and national need
- Deliver specialist secure care for MHID‐F & CAMH-F patients
- Reduce the operating costs of the service pro rata
- Modernise and improve clinical practice
- Reduce costs to the HSE for placement of patients in the UK, prisons and other HSE services
Speaking at the launch, HSE CEO, Mr Stephen Mulvany said: “The opening of the Intensive Rehabilitation Care Units is also due to progress in 2023, treating 30 patients who require specific interventions, and will inform the strategic rollout of a number of other facilities nationally.”
Minister of State for Mental Health & Older People Mary Butler said: “I welcome the opening of today’s new complex which will enable the HSE to support the enhanced delivery of person-centred care, underpinned by human rights for persons using the service and their families. This is one of the most modern forensic mental health facilities in Europe and it delivers on a key Programme for Government commitment for mental health.
“We now have new opportunities to deliver the highest quality care and outcomes for some of the most complex and vulnerable mental health cases in Ireland, including the new 10-bed forensic CAMHS unit which I hope to see rolled out as soon as possible.”