Dáil Éireann - Volume 520 - 30 May, 2000
Written Answers. - Hospital Services.
Ms Fitzgerald Ms Fitzgerald
181. Ms Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the placement of children in psychiatric hospitals due to the fact there are no suitable places available in residential centres for children; when the Inspector for Mental Hospital's report will be  published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15634/00]
Ms McManus Ms McManus
222. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will ask the Inspector for Mental Hospitals to investigate the placement of children in psychiatric hospitals in view of the fact there are no suitable places available in residential centres for children; when the inspectors report for 1999 will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15157/00]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 181 and 222 together.
I acknowledge that the current situation whereby a small number of children with severe behavioural problems are placed in psychiatric hospitals is undesirable. I am committed to ensuring the availability of suitable places for the care of such children and measures are being taken by the health boards, with funding and other supports provided by my Department, to address this issue as a matter of priority.
There are 60 places available at present in secure units which cater for children with severe behavioural problems. By the end of 2000, a further 39 such places will be available with another 56 due to open in 2001-2002, bringing the total number of places to 157 by early 2002.
Specialist inpatient units for children and adolescents who have mental illness are also required and this issue has been referred to by the Inspector of Mental Hospitals in previous annual reports. Funding is being provided under the national development plan for the development of five such units, to be located in Limerick, Cork, Galway and in the eastern region. Project teams have already been established in relation to the units for Limerick, Cork and Galway. It must be emphasised, however, that these psychiatric units will not be secure units and would not be suitable for children such as those who have been before the courts in recent weeks.
A working group is currently being established by my Department to review child and adolescent psychiatry and to finalise a plan for the further development of this service. The group is expected to commence its work shortly.
I understand that the report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals for 1999 will be published within the next few weeks.
Dáil Éireann 520 Written Answers. Hospital Services.