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Why were 75% of unexplained deaths in mental health services not reported correctly?

A previous report found that 25% of deaths had not been reported correctly.

Image: mental health via Shutterstock

THERE HAVE BEEN calls for a detailed audit of all unexplained deaths at Ireland’s mental health facilities.

A previously published audit found that fewer than 25% (5/21) of these deaths were notified in accordance with legislative requirements and HSE policies and procedures.

These deaths are to be reported to the Mental Health Commission and a designated person locally.

“Robust investigations conducted in accordance with HSE guidance are essential, if opportunities for improvement in patient safety are to be identified and acted upon,” the report read.

However, the audit team were ‘unable to provide assurance’ that these guidelines would be followed in future.

Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney called for a further audit last night to ascertain in more detail what happened in the other 75%. He noted that there are “no sanctions at present” for health staff who do not report deaths correctly to the Mental Health Commission.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, he said there is “no room for poor practice” in these services.

Keaveney added that the full facts and information are needed in each case ‘to get a handle on the mental health crisis’, and if the issue is going to be tackled nationally.

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“Every death in these institutions needs to be investigated, and we need to understand every single reason to get the root causes.”

“As a state we are badly failing people with mental health problems that come to our institutions for help,” Keaveney said, and reiterated his party’s calls for the establishment of a National Mental Health Body.

Read: Over 45% of farmers’ family members treated for mental health, with half impacted by suicide >

More: Most of us see Irish society as hostile to mental health problems >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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