Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Department of Health
Mental Health Commission Remit
823. To ask the Minister for Health how many prosecutions the Mental Health Commission recommended be taken, or has initiated, under Part 2 or Part 5 of the Mental Health Act 2001; if is he satisfied with this level of enforcement activity; if he will consider giving the commission powers similar to those that the Health and Safety Authority has to provide for the enforcement of the Mental Health Acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22129/15]
The Mental Health Act 2001 provides the Mental Health Commission with a range of powers to register approved centres and to ensure that such centres meet and maintain certain statutory and regulatory requirements. The Commission's registration and enforcement procedures are designed to protect the health, welfare and safety of all residents accessing in-patient mental health services.
The Commission adopts a responsive approach to regulation. Where an approved centre is non-compliant under the regulations, rules or codes of practice under the Act, the Commission takes account of the service's conduct and behaviour when deciding on regulatory action to be taken. Consequently, if a service demonstrates a willingness to comply with regulatory requirements and can provide the Commission with evidence to support these efforts, the Commission will consider these actions. The Commission endeavours to support services to achieve full compliance. Where a regulatory breach occurs, the Commission's approach is to use 'persuasion' to assist services to meet requirements, once the welfare and safety of residents is not compromised. However, the Commission will escalate its actions when notified of a serious concern by the Inspector of Mental Health Services. In response to non-compliance with the regulations the Commission may request a service to provide a regulatory compliance report or attend a regulatory compliance meeting. In some circumstances services are required to conduct audits on foot of issues raised in inspection reports. To date, there have been no prosecutions recommended or initiated by the Mental Health Commission under Part Two or Part Five of the Mental Health Act 2001.
The Expert Group review of the Mental Health Act 2001 was published in March 2015. During the course of its deliberations, the Expert Group discussed the powers and responsibilities of the Mental Health Commission and the Inspector of Mental Health Services and accordingly has made a number of recommendations in this regard. These recommendations include (i) statutory responsibility for standards in mental health services should be explicitly referenced in a revised section 33 of the Act which specifies the functions of the Mental Health Commission; (ii) a revision to the Act to ensure that there is compliance by approved centres with all codes of practice prepared by the Commission, including the standards in mental health services; and (iii) an amendment to the Act requiring the Inspector to visit a centre and provide a report to the Commission regarding the suitability for registration prior to it being entered into the register of approved centres.
I have instructed my officials to draw up a general scheme of a bill to reflect all of the recommendations of the Expert Group.