By Pat Kelly.
The latest round of reports from the Inspector of Mental Health Services has revealed that although electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was being administered at University College Hospital, Galway (UCHG), the ECT nurse had no specific training in the procedure.
Noting that this was “in contravention of the rules and Code of Practice governing the use of ECT”, Dr Patrick Devitt’s team reported: “ECT was used in the approved centre but the ECT nurse had not been specifically trained in ECT” at the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry.
The Department also fell short of compliance in the area of individual care plans for its residents: “Many residents did not have individual care plans, as required by the Regulations. This was the fourth year in a row that the Department of Psychiatry, UCHG, failed to meet the standard.”
Another area that required attention was seclusion practices, where the seclusion room had sometimes been used as a bedroom, “and there was evidence that staff were uncertain about applying the Rules for Seclusion at times”.
In Newcastle Hospital, ECT — which had been suspended — had resumed following the training of a nurse in the procedure.
In the fourth batch of its 2012 reports, the Inspectorate conducted a wide-ranging review of 16 approved centres nationwide, as well as five other facilities. Overall, it found that improvements were required in 16 of the approved centres.
In the Department of Psychiatry at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, the Inspectorate found insufficient health and social care professionals, which impacted negatively on patient care and “needed to be addressed immediately to ensure a community-focused continuum of care”. However, it was noted that the 25-bed Department “was a calm, open and welcoming unit”, with individual care plans for each resident.
However, six-monthly physical reviews were not always carried out on all patients in some facilities, including Unit 1 at St Ita’s Ward in St Brigid’s Hospital, Ardee. “Nursing staff had made representations to the medical staff, to no avail,” commented the inspection team. Similar six-monthly physical reviews were also not carried out in a number of residents at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny.
In the Acute Psychiatric Unit at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Ennis, it was reported that “medical care for North Tipperary residents was being provided on an on-call basis for a three-week period [at the time of inspection] because the designated consultant psychiatrist was on leave. This was not a satisfactory arrangement”.