10 December, 2021

Responding to coronavirus: information for GPs

In the best interests of the health of all our service users, staff, visitors and the wider public, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) is currently implementing contingency measures against the potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

We regularly share updates on our latest coronavirus measures and protections on our website and social media channels. Please check here for guidance and information which will be helpful when you are referring a patient to our services or supporting a patient who is currently attending our services. 

Please note that the following guidelines apply to all of our campuses, unless otherwise stated: locations and contact details can be found here.

Service updates for GPs

  • Who can currently attend our campuses?

    Our campuses will be open to staff members and service users with a clinical need to be onsite, as advised by their clinician or multidisciplinary team

    Staff members may also enter our campuses. Where appropriate, staff are being facilitated and encouraged to work remotely to reduce the number of people onsite.

    Limited visiting to our St Patrick’s University Hospital campus only will be in place from 15 July 2021. All visitors must follow the measures outlined below.

    Clinical personnel from outside our service - such as ambulance personnel or accompanying nurses - will be admitted to the campus in accordance with our infection control guidance, outlined in the last item of this list of questions. Notification of such personnel attending our campuses is requested in advance, with the personnel requested to leave the campus as soon as they have completed their duties. 

    This arrangement will be under constant review.

  • What visiting restrictions do we have in place?

    From 15 July, inpatient service users in St Patrick’s University Hospital can welcome two people at any one time for up to two visits per week. Please note that visits must be booked in advance; we cannot facilitate unplanned visits, and we will respect the service user’s right to decline a visit.

    Booking a visit

    Visiting times are strictly set at 10am, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm or 6pm each day. The service user must book a visiting time by calling our team on 01 249 3602 and giving the names of the person or people who will be visiting them. The administrator on the call will give the service user a location in the hospital where the visit will take place.

    Arriving for a visit

    Those visiting service users should arrive to the main reception of SPUH at the scheduled time for their visit.

    Visitors will have their temperature taken by a thermal imaging camera on entry and our reception staff will ask them to complete a standard COVID-19 screening survey and agree to follow our infection control measures, outlined in a question below. If these screening protocols are passed, the visit can go ahead.

    Visitors will be given a mask to wear throughout their time on campus by our reception staff, who will direct them to the location for your visit.  

    Visits can last for up to 30 minutes. Please note that no food or drink can be consumed during the visit for health and safety purposes.

    Children and young people aged 16 or under may visit; they can be named as one of the people visiting a service user. If a child is named as the only person visiting the service user, they should be brought to the reception at St Patrick’s University Hospital by an accompanying adult. This same adult must then leave the reception area, before coming to collect the child after their 30 minute visit is over

    We are very grateful to our service users and their supporters for their patience and understanding with these restrictions, which are in place to best protect everyone’s health.

  • Are we continuing to admit inpatient service users?

    Yes, we are continuing to accept inpatient referrals.

    We run an award-winning Homecare Service, consisting of the highest levels of one-to-one support provided remotely. Service users availing of this service receive daily or more frequent contact, along with psychopharmacological input arranged in liaison with local pharmacies.

    This service includes:

    1. Assignment to a multidisciplinary team (MDT), which discusses the service users' care at weekly meetings
    2. At least daily contact from a member of the MDT by videocall, where available, or, where not, by phone
    3. Medication and prescribing review with the same frequency as regular inpatients and measures to ensure service users receive their new medication 
    4. Appropriate individual therapy sessions with members of the MDT, delivered by video call
    5. Appropriate ongoing psychotherapeutic interventions delivered remotely
    6. Support 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

    Due to the spread of COVID-19, all referrals for admission will be offered homecare admissions, with minimal exceptions. This will be discussed in detail with service users, and they will be informed of their options in advance.

    The mental health risk of the service user will always remain a priority, with considerations including clinical risk or the need for treatment which can only be delivered onsite, such as electroconvulsive therapy, being taken into account. Approvals for the Homecare Service will therefore be taken on an individual basis, with all new referrals for inpatient services being reviewed by a consultant psychiatrist and a team of clinical directors to ensure best practice.

  • Can you continue to refer your patients to our services?

    Yes, our Referrals and Admissions Service remains in operation for inpatient and outpatient referrals.

    You can send us online referrals directly from your practice management system; this is a secure and fast way to send referrals and a copy of the referral is automatically saved into your patient's records on your GP Practice System. The process for homecare admissions, outlined above, will be conducted through technological means, using a platform available to both the service user and our staff member.

    Only those referrals whose clinical mental health risk assessment determines it will be physically admitted to hospital. A member of our Referrals and Admissions Service will contact these service users on the day before their admission and will carry out a screening protocol against coronavirus. Any risk factors which may be identified will be discussed and considered with a doctor before their admission.


  • Can you continue to use our online referrals system?

    Yes, our online referrals system is continuing to operate. You can send us online referrals directly from your practice management system; this is a secure and fast way to send referrals, and a copy of the referral is automatically saved into your patient's records on your GP Practice System. Easy, step-by-step guides to sending online referrals through HealthOne, Socrates, and HPM can be found here.

  • Are appointments and programmes still running?

    Yes, our services and programmes are continuing to run, with contingency measures in place to protect everyone's health and safety.

    As such, we have scaled up technology-mediated interventions for people attending our Dean Clinics and day services; these interventions are underpinned by rigorous risk-assessment, combined with assessment of suitability for the services we can provide. We are offering technology-mediated appointments to all service users of our Dean Clinics. Day services are now also be delivered either online or via telephone.

    A member of staff will be in touch with service users ahead of their appointment or session to inform and guide them on this. Instructions on how to take part in the appointment or session through the technology will also be sent to service users in advance.

  • Are volunteer support groups still running?

    No, all volunteer support group meetings, hosted at both St Patrick's University Hospital in Dublin 8 and St Patrick's, Lucan, have been postponed until further notice. These include Alcoholic Anonymous, Aware, OCD Ireland, LifeRing, Orientation, AL-ANON and ANEW meetings

  • What infection control measures are in place on our campuses?

    Please check that you can attend our campus before making the journey, as a number of restrictions are in place to protect public health.

    If you are coming to one of our campuses, please identify yourself at the reception desk when you arrive. Our reception staff will ask you the questions below.

    • Have you travelled outside of Ireland in the past 14 days?
    • Are you a close contact of a confirmed or suspected case?
    • Are you experiencing any respiratory symptoms or breathing difficulties; fever; loss of smell; and/or loss or distortion of taste?
    • Have you been advised that you are required to self-isolate?

    If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, we cannot allow entry to the campus. If you pass this screening protocol, you will be asked to sign a document agreeing to:

    • perform hand hygiene before accessing SPMHS
    • practice cough and sneeze etiquette
    • maintain physical distancing of two metres.

    In addition, we have a thermal imaging camera installed at the main entrance to St Patrick’s University Hospital. This camera will take your temperature on your arrival. If your temperature is equal to or greater than 37.5 degrees Celsius, we will not be able to allow your entry into the hospital building.

    Having going through all the steps above, please follow the guidelines below when you are on campus.

    • Wash your hands thoroughly before you arrive
    • Use our hand hygiene gels at the entrance and throughout the campus
    • Observe hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette closely, as promoted by the HSE, throughout your time on the campus
      • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
      • dispose your used tissues in a bin
      • wash your hands thoroughly after coughing or sneezing
      • wash your hands thoroughly before leaving the hospital.
    • Follow social distancing measures throughout your time on the campus by keeping a distance of two metres from other people and avoiding physical contact.

Continue to…

See our COVID-19 visiting restrictions and infection control measures