Critical fire risk at Limerick psychiatric unit 

Mental Health Commission chief executive John Farrelly

THE ACUTE Psychiatric Unit at University Hospital Limerick has been found lacking in fire prevention measures, one of which has been described as ‘critical” by inspectors. 

An official inspection by the Mental Health Commission (MHC) also found that individual care plans were lacking for patients in the 42-bed 5B unit where there were 34 residents at the time of inspection.

While the centre received a compliance rate of 85 per cent, the report stated: “There were five areas where risk was identified, including one critical risk and one high risk. The inspection found that the centre did not have adequate fire safety structures and procedures.

“A major fire risk was identified in the form of a missing fire door. This door was crucial to the centre’s use of separate zones in order to accommodate horizontal evacuation in the event of fire.

“This was rated as a critical risk. MHC took steps requiring the centre to address this matter and to complete a series of further independent fire safety checks at the time of inspection.”

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

The report went on to say that while inspectors found that staff provided therapeutic activities, individual care plans for patients were unsatisfactory.

“Four individual care plans were not developed by the multi-disciplinary team, three individual care plans did not include appropriate goals, and four individual care plans were not updated by the full multi-disciplinary team.”

On the positive side, inspectors found, “a quality initiative had been put in place to reduce restrictive practices. A change in culture, practice and environment resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in both physical restraints and special observations from 2019 to 2020. Further improvements were observed in 2021.”

Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission, John Farrelly commented: “We acknowledge that some centres are struggling to retain staff and support levels for patients, given the ongoing pandemic and the impact that this is having on our health services. However, there is no excuse for not having in place appropriate fire doors to protect patients.  The regulation relating to risk management is there for a reason.”