Nurses tell of fear of mental patients
A small minority of people with psychiatric illness who are discharged from hospital but refusing to take medication should be subject to a community supervision order, it was claimed yesterday.
Des Kavanagh, head of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, told the union's annual conference in Athlone that while the "vast majority of mentally-ill people pose no threat to the community, it had to be honestly acknowledged that a small number of patients present a threat - and sometimes a very serious threat - to family, staff and others".
He also warned that while assaults in acute psychiatric units were infrequent, the attacks in some services must be addressed.
"The acute unit in University College Hospital, Galway has experienced 34 assaults on staff in the first three months of this year. This is an incredible record. The implications for patient care and staff morale are obvious. I am now calling for an independent investigation into the management of this unit."
Mr Kavanagh said he recently wrote to Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch on the issue of adverse events such as murders and family killings.
"I am now calling on the Minister to set out what investigations follow such adverse events.
"Is every adverse event investigated? Are the results of such investigations collected and correlated within the HSE or the Department of Health?" he asked.
He said that in the absence of a response he could conclude only that there was no focused strategy for investigation.