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Covid-19 – ‘No additional concerns’ for welfare of mental health residents if advice heeded

The Inspector of Mental Health Services at the Mental Health Commission has said she has no additional concerns relating to the physical healthcare needs of residents in mental health units in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak if advice is heeded.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), Dr Susan Finnerty confirmed that as long as HSE and public health advice is followed in preventing the spread of Covid-19 she had no additional concerns regarding the physical health needs of residents, other than those already outlined.

Dr Finnerty’s recent report, Physical Health of People with Severe Mental Illness, drew attention to the inequalities faced by mental health patients in receiving adequate physical healthcare services compared to other healthcare patients. 

“I found that there was unequitable access to such services as speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, dietetics and seating assessments for people with severe mental illness in comparison to other healthcare patients. This is despite clear assessed need for these services and that harm is done to these people by denying them these services,” Dr Finnerty wrote.

As hospitals and residential units take precautions to stem the spread of Covid-19, concern for those with existing health conditions is mounting.

“As things stand, I have no reason for additional concerns in relation to the physical healthcare needs of residents to those that I outlined in my report last year, as long as each centre monitors and follows national health/HSE advice and best practices on an ongoing basis, whether or not a case of Covid-19 is identified in their operational area,” said Dr Finnerty.

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