88. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the services provided to persons with a mental illness while in prison; the personnel numbers and levels providing such services, by prison; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15849/17]


Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that in-reach mental health services are available in the Dublin and Portlaoise prisons, and Castlerea prison, through collaboration with the Health Service Executive, HSE, and the National Forensic Mental Health Service, NFMHS, to provide forensic mental health sessions weekly in these prisons.
The Irish Prison Service, in partnership and collaboration with the HSE, provides specialist in-reach, consultant led psychiatric services to those in custody in Limerick and Cork prisons. The HSE has confirmed that approval has been granted for the appointment of a consultant led team to both Limerick and Cork prisons. The HSE has also advised that arrangements are being finalised for the assignment of a consultant led mental health in-reach team to Castlerea Prison. The NFMHS also provides an assessment and liaison service for all other prisons where a prisoner requires a forensic assessment, or access to an admission bed in the Central Mental Hospital, CMH. Consultant forensic psychiatrists are leading these services and, in many settings, are supported by non-consultant hospital doctors, community psychiatric nurses, and social workers.
The Irish Prison Service has confirmed that the following personnel are employed by the NFMHS in providing its services to persons in custody:
Cloverhill - 1.5 WTE, whole time equivalent, consultant forensic psychiatrist, 2 WTE non-consultant house doctor, 3 WTE community psychiatric nurses, and 1 housing resettlement officer.
Wheatfield - 0.2 WTE consultant forensic psychiatrist, 2 WTE community psychiatric nurses, and 0.1 WTE consultant forensic psychiatrist for 17 year olds.
Mountjoy - 0.3 WTE consultant forensic psychiatrist, 0.2 WTE non-consultant house doctor, 2 WTE community psychiatric nurses, and 1.3 WTE social workers, for discharge planning.
Dochas - 0.2 consultant forensic psychiatrist, 0.2 non-consultant house doctor, 1 community psychiatric nurse, and 0.5 social worker.
Arbour Hill - 0.1 WTE consultant forensic psychiatrist, 0.1 WTE community psychiatric nurses.
Midlands Prison - 1.0 WTE consultant psychiatrist, and 2 WTE community psychiatric Nurses.
Portlaoise Prison - 0.2 WTE consultant forensic psychiatrist.
Castlerea - 0.6 WTE senior registrar, and 0.2 WTE community psychiatric nurse.
The Irish Prison Service has access to a limited number of places in the CMH for prisoners who require residential mental health treatment. There is currently an average of 20 prisoners each week awaiting transfer to the CMH.
The Irish Prison Service, in collaboration with the NFMHS, has established two dedicated areas where high support is provided to vulnerable prisoners with mental illness; D2 wing in Cloverhill Prison, for remand prisoners, and the high support unit in Mountjoy, for sentenced prisoners. Both units provide a dedicated area within the prison where mentally ill and vulnerable prisoners, who present with a risk of harm to self or to others, can be separated from the general prison population and are closely monitored in a safer environment.
A psychiatric in-reach and court liaison service, PICLS, is delivered by the HSE/CMH at Cloverhill Prison. The diversion system ensures as far as possible that those people presenting before the courts, or indeed at an earlier stage of the criminal justice system, where the infraction is a reflection of an underlying mental illness, are referred and treated appropriately. This approach has reduced the number of mentally ill people committed to prison.
The Irish Prison Service Psychology Service also plays a key role in the provision of mental health services for people in custody. Specifically, the psychology service provides various evidence-based primary, secondary and tertiary care talking therapies for people in custody who experience mental health difficulties. Interventions include "whole population initiatives" in conjunction with the multi-disciplinary team to raise awareness of mental health, individual therapy and group based interventions.
The Irish Prison Service Psychology Service is currently comprised of six senior psychologists, 13 staff grade psychologists, one head of psychology, and 6 assistant psychologists.
All healthcare staff, including prison doctors, prison nurses, and locum healthcare staff, also provide ongoing support to all persons in custody.