Our concerns about mental health, learning disability and autism services

8 May 2020 10:29 AM

Our primary purpose is to keep people safe, and this remains the same throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We continue to be concerned about mental health, learning disability and autism services, as highlighted in our restrictive practices review, and through inspection activity.

Hearing from people about their care has never been more important and we are reviewing every whistleblowing concern we are receiving including those from people who use services and their families. We will continue to inspect and take action where mental health, learning disability and autism services are not protecting people’s human rights and providing poor care. We have done this in recent weeks.

A number of services remain in special measures and we are closely monitoring these and will be re-inspecting them as soon as possible.

We have written to mental health providers to highlight concerns about coronavirus related deaths of patients subject to the Mental Health Act (MHA). From 1 March to 1 May 2020 we have been notified of 54 deaths that mental health providers indicated were suspected or confirmed to be coronavirus related.

These figures include both people who are detained in hospital and people subject to the Mental Health Act who are in the community.

Dr Kevin Cleary, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals and lead for mental health said:

“This increase of death notifications is due to coronavirus related deaths and while this mirrors a rise in notifications from other sectors and includes deaths from confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases, it is obviously of concern. That a number of people detained under the Mental Health Act have died from suspected or confirmed coronavirus is a particular worry as these are some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“All mental health providers should continue to notify us of any deaths of people subject to the MHA in a timely way, including both inpatients and those people who are subject to the MHA and living in the community. We will continue to review this data in order to understand what factors might be driving this and if any additional action might be required to safeguard people.

“We want to be clear what we expect from providers in term of their management of coronavirus and we will be asking some providers to urgently confirm the action they are taking to manage coronavirus outbreaks.”

Overview of the numbers of SN17-1 (notifications 2016-2020) for the period 1st March to 1st May (inclusive)






2020 (without duplicates)

2020 Reported deaths due or suspected to be due to coronavirus

Number of SN17s:
All providers







Number of SN17s:
Mental health providers (see note above/
below for categorisation)







Number of SN17s:
Non-mental health providers








More information

Transparency Statement: Publication of deaths of people detained under the Mental Health Act – coronavirus (COVID-19) reporting

Coronavirus information