A VULNERABLE 18-year-old Irish woman is to be returned to Ireland after being detained for more than 20 months in a specialised psychiatric unit at St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton.
The woman, who has a borderline personality disorder making her susceptible to episodes of self-harm — including suicidal tendencies — has spent much of the last four years in psychiatric units.
In a judgment by the Irish courts that has taken into account the wishes of the woman’s solicitors and family, as well as the advice of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland, the woman will initially be treated on a voluntary basis in a psychiatric ward of a general hospital in Ireland, followed by appropriate treatment in a psychiatric facility.
The judgment, heard before Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, was the latest in a long series of hearings. The case has come before Mr Justice Noonan some 23 times.
The HSE had been arguing that the woman lacked the capacity to make a decision about her ongoing treatment and should remain in England.
Complex legal questions were raised in relation to the Irish High Court’s legality in ordering the involuntary detention of an Irish citizen in an institution outside its jurisdiction.
Irish mental health legislation does not permit the involuntary detention of those with personality disorders, however agreement between all parties has now been reached.
The lengthy legal proceedings concerning the care and treatment have involved costs estimated at over €1million while the annual costs of her care in St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton were €400,000.
Such costs would have paid for a purpose-built unit for her in Irleand, Mr Justice Noonan observed.