A Right to Health Care in Ireland?

Human Rights in Ireland is pleased to welcome this guest post from Rosalind McKenna, Human Rights in Ireland Coordinator, Amnesty International Ireland as part of Human Rights Week 2012.

Twenty-three years have passed since Ireland became Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Twenty three years of successive governments failing to domestically incorporate the Covenant into Irish law, or otherwise reflect the commitments undertaken in policy or practice.

In the absence of a commitment to constitutionally protect these rights, Amnesty International Ireland has been examining how legislation can be used to advance policy in line with international human rights standards. The Irish Human Rights Commission has outlined the advantages to protecting rights in legislation; these standards defining minimum core content of the right, stipulating financial arrangements for the delivery of rights, promoting accountability by prescribing exact responsibilities and functions of different levels of government, and preventing / prohibiting violations by public bodies or officials.

In particular, we are campaigning for legislation to drive forward the implementation of mental health policy, and to underpin forthcoming healthcare reform.

For nearly 30 years Ireland has been striving to reform its mental health services, with change slow and accountability inadequate. Successive government policies have called for fundamental reform of the mental health system (Planning for the Future (1984) and A Vision for Change (2006)). A Vision for Change called for a person-centred, recovery-oriented and holistic approach to mental health services. It called for a shift from the existing system, with an over-reliance on institutional care, to a system of community-based care provided by multi-disciplinary teams.

Human rights law demands that mental health services be continuously improved in line with Continue reading “A Right to Health Care in Ireland?”

A Right to Health Care in Ireland?

World Mental Health Day

Today in World Mental Health Day – and it provides us in Ireland with a lot to think about in terms of the way in which mental health services are provided and how our mental health laws are constituted.  The key policy document on mental health is entitled “A Vision for Change” and the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, which was established to monitor its implementation have been very critical to date in their five annual reports on the lack of progress in implementation.  See here.  In its most recent report it was critical of the absence of a recovery ethos within mental health services.  This is a major challenge that has to be addressed as principles of recovery are at the core of the philosophy underpinning “A Vision for Change”.  While there is much to be dismayed about we are at an important crossroads in Ireland in relation to our mental health laws.  The Department of Health is in the process of reviewing of the Mental Health Act 2001, while the Department of Justice is similarily reviewing the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.  This provides a significant opportunity to rethink our mental health laws in light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which the Government is working towards Continue reading “World Mental Health Day”

World Mental Health Day

Publication of the Mental Health Commission's 2010 Report.

We are very pleased to welcome this guest post from Dr. Claire Murray, Lecturer in Law at University College Cork.

Under section 51 of the Mental Health Act 2001 (MHA 2001) the Inspector of Mental Health Services is required to visit every approved centre in the country at least once during the year and to report to the Mental Health Commission. The Commission has a statutory responsibility to promote high standards and good practices in the delivery of mental health services. The 2010 Annual Report of the Commission was published on the 2nd June 2011. As with previous annual reports the slow rate of change in mental health service provision is emphasised. This delay in moving to a modern rights-based mental health framework is particularly frustrating when, as stated by the Inspector, “mental health services have been traditionally neglected, need radical reform/modernisation, are chronically under-resourced and deal with individuals with severe conditions which adversely affect themselves, their families and society.”

Continue reading “Publication of the Mental Health Commission's 2010 Report.”

Publication of the Mental Health Commission's 2010 Report.