A further blow to the reputation and image of Mayo University Hospital

The problems with Mayo's healthcare system clearly run deeper than the long-running issue of overcrowding in the emergency department of Mayo University Hospital.

The publication of the inspection report by the Mental Health Commission into the adult mental health centre at the Castlebar facility cast a spotlight on a different, yet no less worrying, problem at MUH.

In effect, the facility was found to be non-compliant with its registration requirement in three respects, namely staff, condition of the premises and the general health of its 32 patients and residents.

In the interest of balance, it is important to point out that it was found complaint in a number of other areas, but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

The most disturbing revelation of the report is the fact that its staffing levels have been allowed to fall by up to 14 to 30 since July 2021, leaving it without a sufficient number of psychiatric nurses and creating a situation categorised by the commission as 'a critical risk'.

When it is taken into account that some residents require one-to-one nursing, it is a damning indictment on the hospital that such a situation has been allowed to occur at a time of unprecedented investment in Ireland's health care services.

Furthermore, the condition of the facility has been allowed to deteriorate to a level at which it is deemed to be in a poor state of repair, externally and internally.

For example, in the main garden and in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) courtyard, windowsills were described as 'dirty' while the paint on the walls was peeling off.

In a single room in the HDU, the wall was damaged, poorly repaired, and in need of painting.

Fire doors in HDU bedrooms were damaged, broken and ineffective.

This is not exactly creating a welcoming environment for people experiencing a low point in their lives.

It is regrettable that mental health is not receiving the funding it requires in order to maintain the highest standards of care.

In fact, it's inexcusable and reflects poorly on our government.

The Mental Health Commission deserves to be fully supported in its efforts to ensure that all issues of non-compliance are swiftly addressed in the interest of the wellbeing of residents - and avoid facing the prospect of closure.