Patricia Gilheaney was appointed Inspector of Prisons in May 2018. She is responsible for the inspection of all Irish prisons and regularly visits prison establishments. In November 2018, at the request of the Minister for Justice and Equality, she investigated allegations of certain wrongdoings in the Irish Prison Service. In her role, she also investigates the circumstances surrounding all deaths of persons in prison custody and within one month of temporary release from custody. Her interest in the protection of human rights stems from her psychiatric and general nursing background.
Immediately prior to her current role, Patricia served as Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission (MHC) from 2011. She was appointed the MHC’s first Director of Standards and Quality Assurance in October 2003 and led the development and implementation of the regulatory system for mental health services including the development of the first set of standards for mental health services in Ireland. She also developed rules and codes of practice for the use of restrictive practices and other interventions under the Mental Health Act 2001. Patricia was involved in the establishment and implementation of mental health tribunals in 2006, which provided for the first time in Ireland, an automatic independent review of a person’s detention for the treatment of mental disorder.
Patricia has contributed to the development of a range of national health related policies and was a Ministerial appointee to the following: Expert Group tasked with developing Ireland’s National Strategy to Reduce Suicide 2015–2020; Expert Group tasked with reviewing the Mental Health Act 2001; National Clinical Effectiveness Committee 2010–2015; National Patient Safety Advisory Group 2011–2016. She is currently serving a second term as a member of the Board of the Association of Chief Executives of Non-Commercial State Agencies (ACESA).