HSE admit thefts at Acute Psychiatric Unit in Ennis

The HSE have admitted that theft between patients is on ongoing issue at the Acute Psychiatric Unit in Ennis, but says that an ‘extensive risk assessment’ has been carried out this year to tackle the problem.
The organisation was responding to a number of questions put to them by The Clare People, including allegations of alcohol and drug use at the facility and medication being dispensed to patients in full view of other patients.
The facility currently contains 39 beds, the vast majority of which are in shared wards. These shared wards, which can contain three or four patients at a time, are alleged to be the location of thefts by patients.
A Clare woman, who asked not to be identified, said that the threat of theft in these shared wards caused additional stress to her relative who used the Ennis facility recently.
“Money and other items were taken by other patients in the room. You couldn’t leave your phone or your cosmetic bad in the room or it would be taken. It was a big extra stress for all the patients. She [her relative] couldn’t leave her room without bringing all her valuables with her. Having that many sick people sharing a room together is not conducive with good health. The stress was unbelievable,” she told the Clare People.
“A number of patients were drinking alcohol which was hidden in a coke bottle. My relative was offered alcohol on a number of occasions by other patients.
“Medicine was given out at meal time, while patients were sitting at shared table of four or five people. There was no privacy for the patients. Some patients did not take their medication and some would swap medication with other patients.
“A lot of people are having problems with mental health in Clare at the moment. These people need a safe place to go to. This place was worse than prison. At lease in prison who have a good chance of having a cell to yourself.”
A spokesperson from the HSE said that the searches are carried out when a suspected theft is reported.
“During 2015, extensive risk assessments were carried out in relation to security issues. Unfortunately from time to time, incidents may arise where patients may attempt to steal from other patients. Where this occurs, searches are conducted under the search policy within the Unit and each incident is documented and reported to An Garda Síochána. Investigations are carried out in line with procedures,” said the spokesperson.
“Alcohol is not permitted on the Unit. APU, Ennis, has a search policy in place. Where there is a suspicion that a patient is consuming alcohol or taking illicit drugs on the Unit, searches are carried out in line with the policy. Patients are reviewed by the Medical team and a plan put in place for their management.
“Medication is administered under the strict guidelines laid out in the policy on Ordering, Prescribing, Storing and Administration of Drugs/Medicines. Staff adhere to the policy at all times while respecting the privacy of each individual patient.”


  1. Your article caught my interest, as I was a patient in the unit during the summer and was a victim of theft of an expensive watch that I wore most of the time except when showering. And on such occasion my watch was swiped. A gift I’d received only months previous from my partner which was expensive and sentimental. I was told by staff not to leave anything valuable around but the inexpensive items were taken too and it did add to the overall stress of being in the unit. My incident was not reported as far as I recall. I was told my watch probably left the unit and was sold off that day.
    Pity more couldn’t be done so one doesn’t feel like they need eyes in the back of their head or not feel comfortable at all.


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