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Opening date of new national forensic hospital to be confirmed

By Paul Mulholland - 07th Dec 2021

A date has not yet been proposed by the Minister for Health for the relocation of the Central Mental Hospital and transfer of its patients to the new National Forensic Mental Health Services (NFMHS) facility in north Dublin, the Medical Independent (MI) can report.

The Central Mental Hospital (Relocation) Act 2020 provides for the Minister for Health to set this date, in consultation with the Minister for Justice.

“The opening date for the new Central Mental Hospital in Portrane remains to be clarified due to certain industrial relations (IR) issues to be finalised, along with the HSE addressing construction completion matters. The estimated opening date is early 2022,” the HSE confirmed to MI.

The date for relocation of the Central Mental Hospital to the new NFMHS facility of 170 high and medium secure mental health beds was first expected to begin a year ago. The next transfer date was anticipated to be the end of this year.

The Dáil heard earlier this year that the formal handover of the new 170-bed hospital in Portrane to the national forensic mental health service took place in March 2021, and that the HSE was now equipping and commissioning the facility.

Following the handover, one unit at the newly constructed facility, the Brandon Unit in Portrane, was temporarily registered as an approved centre with the Mental Health Commission and designated as a psychiatric centre by the Minister for Health in April 2020.

The HSE said this had allowed the Executive to transfer a number of pre-discharge patients from the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum to this additional designated centre in Portrane in April 2020, “which in turn allowed for improved Covid-19 infection prevention and control measures to be put in place in Dundrum.”

The patients subsequently moved on, in line with their treatment plan, and the Brandon Unit was handed back to the builder for practical completion.

The Brandon Unit is one of what are to become three approved and designated psychiatric centres in the National Forensic Health Service campus: The Central Mental Hospital; a forensic intensive care and rehabilitation unit and a 10-bed forensic child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) in the Brandon unit.

The three psychiatric centres are to open on a phased basis, following the relocation of the Central Mental Hospital.

The National Development Plan 2018-2023 has provided for the replacement of the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, with an “appropriate modern facility” in Portrane, Co Dublin.

Once vacated, the State-funded Land Development Agency is due to redevelop the Central Mental Hospital Dundrum site, which extends to approximately 11.3 hectares, with residential housing.

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