Concern raised over Covid-19 death toll among mental health patients

A state watchdog is calling for urgent action to ensure the Covid-19 death toll among mental health patients does not continue to rise.

Seventeen service-users lost their lives in three centres between April and early July, and 154 got the virus.

The Mental Health Commission says there were delays and inconsistencies with testing during this monitoring period.

Chief executive John Farrelly says a third of units or hostels also had some dormitory-style accommodation - causing big problems.

Mr Farrelly said: "April in particular was a very hard time for services. When Covid gets in to where older people are, they are very much at risk."

"Everything that could be done was done, but the bottom line was that 17 people lost their lives due to Covid-19," he added. "We have to make sure this winter, that all of us are working together to keep community transmission down so that people in services are safe."