Last updated: Thursday, 28 January, 2021, 12:19
- Concern as Covid-19 outbreaks in two mental health facilities in NI affected 76 staff
- 170 more young people in care in NI than at beginning of pandemic
- People aged 65-69 can now book their Covid-19 vaccination
- NI Executive set to extend closure of schools to March
Concern as Covid-19 outbreaks in two mental health facilities in NI affected 76 staff
Covid-19 outbreaks in two of Northern Ireland’s specialist mental health facilities affect 76 staff over Christmas, the Stormont Health Committee has learned.
The details of the two incidents, which occurred in Holywell Hospital and in a mental health facility in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, were communicated to the committee by Tomas Adell, Head of Mental Health and Capacity Unit, Department of Health, during a meeting of the committee on Thursday morning.
“In the first surge, mental health services were fairly unaffected by Covid but over Christmas we had a number of outbreaks.
“We are not fully sure why these outbreaks occurred how they did when they did.
“One factor we think that could have had an impact is that we are testing more staff but it’s early days to say what they precisely were.”
Mr. Adell agreed to share with the committee any details he receives that could potentially explain why the outbreaks occurred before Christmas.
The committee was scrutinising an amendment to the the Mental Health (1986 Order) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2021.
The amendment allows for a change of the period which must elapse for a second opinion to be required for the continued administration of medicine to detained patients from three months to six months.
Mr. Adell said the reason behind the amendment was because health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland have five second opinion doctors they can call upon concerning the administration of medicine to detained patients from three months to six months.
Mr. Adell explained one of the five doctors is currently absent because of Covid-19 and said should another of the remaining four doctors become unavailable it could affect the ability of trusts to deliver statutory provisions contained within the mental health order.
170 more young people in care in NI than at beginning of pandemic
There are 170 more children in care in Northern Ireland than there was at the beginning of April 2021, the Stormont Health Committee has been told.
Eilís McDaniel, Director of Childcare & Family Policy, Department of Health provided the details as she briefed the committee on the Looked After Children Strategy on Thursday morning.
Ms. McDaniel told the committee that referrals concerning children entering into the care system in Northern Ireland were “consistently higher” throughout the pandemic.
“Covid has had a huge impact on children and families,” said Ms. McDaniel.
“This is partly the reason why we have developed a vulnerable children plan that we will brief the committee on in a few weeks.”
Ms. McDaniel also told the committee that 43 per cent of children in care come from the 20 per cent of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland.
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