May 28, 2021
Emergency Covid measures must be repealed in relation to Mental Health – Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called for Part 5 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 to be repealed.

Part 5 provides for amendments to the Mental Health Act 2001, which allows Mental Health Tribunals to be reduced to one-member paper-based tribunals, and minimum personal interaction between relevant persons.
Teachta Ward said:
“This legislation was introduced to reduce the amount of personal interaction between relevant persons in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“In fact, since this emergency legislation was introduced there have been 755 mental health tribunals and not one of these tribunals have had to use the emergency powers that were enacted.
“There is no need to extend these emergency powers if all the evidence suggests that they are not being used and there is no need for them.
“We also must take into consideration that things have moved on with the vaccine roll out.

“People with acute mental health illnesses were prioritised for vaccines, as were the health professionals who work with them, so therefore the need for these emergency powers is further diminished.
“At the recent Health Committee meeting, Mental Health Reform stated that the legislation continues to be problematic in its removal of safeguards for service users, and its infringements of service user rights such as the right to a tribunal.

“The Government should be focusing on substantially increasing investment in our mental health services and supports to address the challenges of the pandemic and its aftermath.
“Covid-19 has shown the inadequacy of our mental health services. What we need is a fit for purpose, responsive, and accessible mental health system, in which people can access the care they need when they need it and where they need it.

“Due to the considerable time these emergency measures have been in place, and the progress made on vaccinations, I believe that the measures contained in Part 5 are no longer necessary.

“We are now in a very different place to when we first enacted this legislation.”

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