Covid-191 October 2020
Our office is closed with our staff working remotely. Please get in touch with us by email or phone as we aim to maintain a responsive service.
Mental Health Tribunals
For the past 14 years, all people who are involuntarily detained have had the right to have their detention reviewed by what is known as a ‘mental health tribunal’ within 21 days of the making of the admission or renewal order detaining the person. The tribunals are independent and the reviews exist to protect patients’ rights. Stringent requirements exist in the legislation and the Mental Health Commission carefully adheres to these statutory requirements.
The current COVID-19 pandemic had created the potential for the failure of the current mental health tribunal procedures due to pressures and necessary restrictions on our health services and/or the unavoidable absence of tribunal panel members.
Following our close collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE and the private approved centres, the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2020 came into effect on 30 March and provided an alternate format for mental health tribunals which continues to ensure a person’s right to due process and freedom from arbitrary detention.
As of Monday 30 March 2020, all mental health tribunals have been held remotely. The Commission continues to appoint three-member tribunals and has not been required to use the provision in the emergency legislation to allow for a move from a three-member tribunal to a one-member tribunal. All tribunals have been held within the existing statutory timelines.
As of 6 July 2020, patient’s legal representatives and consultant psychiatrists conducting independent assessments of detained patients have been allowed to attend approved centres in person.
Guidance documents have been issued in relation to the above.
The Mental Health Commission developed a standardised and evidence-based regulatory support framework at the beginning of April 2020 to help protect more than 3,900 residents and patients of 182 mental health facilities across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A number of regulatory functions were suspended during this period in recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing Ireland’s mental health services. Below are the details of the risk framework we developed, copies of memoranda issued to services since the beginning of the pandemic and a recent Oireachtas submission outlining key metrics in respect of our COVID-19 monitoring.
The Department of Health had formally requested that the Commission undertake a risk rating exercise as part of enhanced public health measures for Covid-19 disease management for the purposes of liaising with national and regional governance structures to support services.
The Commission engaged all their resources to promptly develop a risk assessment framework to contact and assess services in terms of their preparedness, environment and disease progression. This is not an inspection, compliance or enforcement process. The Commission is committed to working with and supporting services as part of this risk assessment process.
The Commission’s risk assessment framework, along with the methodology and process behind it, can both be accessed at the links below.
Relevant memoranda to services (issued over the past months):
Memo: 25 March 2020
Memo: 29 April 2020
Memo: 08 June 2020
Memo: 11 June 2020
Memo: 25 June 2020
Memo: 24 July 2020
Memo: 24 August 2020
Memo: 01 October 2020
In line with Government and Public Health recommendations, the Commission has now re-started annual inspections and other regulatory functions.
The Mental Health Commission continues to request that all approved centres and 24-hour nurse-staffed community residences notify us of any confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
We have developed a detailed plan to re-start inspections, an abbreviated version of which can be found here. We have also developed a special edition of the Judgement Support Framework which will enable a streamlined inspection process until the end of 2021.
If you or a loved one has any queries or concerns in relation to COVID-19, or any of the changes listed above, you can find a list of contacts below:
If you have a concern about the care required or provided please contact your treating team or hospital directly. See here for a list of approved centres.
If you need urgent help and support click here.
If you have an issue of concern please email email@example.com
If you have a media query contact firstname.lastname@example.org