Crippen looks at the deaths of patients in MH hospitals

Deaths in mental health hospitals and learning disability units have doubled compared with last year – with 54 of these deaths from confirmed or suspected coronavirus infections.

The Care Quality Commission regulator said 106 deaths were recorded between 1 March and 1 May, compared with 51 over the same period in 2019. They have now been warned by the care watchdog that they must take action to protect vulnerable patients.

The figures were published as NHS England separately refused to make public the weekly data it receives from hospitals and learning disability units about the deaths of patients with learning disabilities. It said the data would be published in 2021, sparking outrage from charities and politicians.

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.

Labour’s shadow care minister Liz Kendall said: “This is extremely worrying and shows Covid-19 has now reached mental health units. Families and the wider public deserve to know what is happening, and why.

Harriet Harman MP, chair of parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, has also written to health secretary Matt Hancock demanding the government publish data on the deaths of people with learning disabilities and autism.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The scene is a hospital ward with a single bed containing a skeleton. The skeleton is holding an alarm button and a spider has woven a large web across it and the bed. A vase of dead flowers sits on the bedside table with petals all over the floor. Three people in white coats are standing at the foot of the bed. One of them is holding a document called ‘Covid 19’. Another is writing on a clip board and is saying to his colleagues: “I wish all of our patients were as undemanding as our learning disabled friend here!”

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