The number of deaths in mental health hospitals has doubled since the same time last year because of the coronavirus. Why?
These are supposed to be very secure facilities.
The number of people visiting them should have fallen because of the lockdown.
And medical professionals should have had the equipment – and the knowledge – to prevent the virus from penetrating as far as the patients.
But out of 106 deaths between March 1 and May 1, 54 were from confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infections.
In the same period last year, 51 people died. So deaths have more than doubled and all but one of the excess deaths were due to the pandemic.
And if you think the problem is limited to mental health hospitals, ask yourself: why is NHS England refusing to admit the number of people with learning disabilities who have died?
The Care Quality Commission has reminded mental health hospital providers that they have a duty of care to vulnerable patients.
It has highlighted its fears over the spread of the virus in secure hospitals and units, and to patients who are under Mental Health Act restrictions in the community.
The CQC will review its information on the deaths to determine what may be driving the deaths and whether other action should be taken.
There are serious human rights questions to be answered:
Deborah Coles, from the charity Inquest, told The Independent: “The refusal to publish the data points to the historical longstanding failure to provide detailed information about deaths of people in the care of the state in mental health and learning disability settings.
“People in closed institutions are completely reliant on others for their care and treatment. At a time of no external scrutiny, because the CQC is not inspecting units and family visits are restricted, there is the ever-present risk of abuse and ill treatment. These organisations have clear human rights obligations and it is unacceptable that there is just no transparency about what is happening.”
She added: “The other key issue is the indirect impact of Covid-19 on therapeutic services, use of restraint, medication and seclusion and self-inflicted deaths. They need to publish more comprehensive data than numbers disaggregated by gender, race, age, provider. Such a dramatic increase in deaths is deeply concerning and we need to understand the context. Data is meaningless without analysis.”
This Writer wants to know if our health providers have a guilty conscience.
Have they deliberately overlooked their duties to ensure that people with mental illnesses and learning disabilities enjoy a decent standard of health?
Let’s be honest with ourselves – if people in authority are trying to hide something, it’s usually because they know they’re responsible.
Lastly: nobody in such a position knowingly fails in their duty of their own accord. Were they acting (or rather, not acting) on orders from the Tory government?
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