COVID-19: information for psychiatrists in Northern Ireland

Explore our most up to date guidance and information for psychiatrists working in Northern Ireland.

How to use our guidance

The RCPsych has created a large and growing hub of COVID-19 information designed for clinicians across the UK which comprises of new College policy and signposting to key organisations, this can be found on the 'Guidance of clinicians' button below.

This guidance has been written from a broad UK perspective. Although some of the terminology used may not be the same as that used in Northern Ireland, the general principles are applicable and the guidance should be used by members to help develop Trust-specific guidance.  RCPsych in NI's advice to members is to utilise the central College guidance in liaison with their employing HSC Trust. 

Additional considerations for clinicians in Northern Ireland, with regard to guidance or legislation, will be posted below. 

Northern Ireland Specific Guidance and Updates

Whilst the UK guidance should be relevant and of use to practitioners across the UK, please find below some specific updates and exceptions relevant to the Northern Ireland health care system.  This will be updated regularly. 

This circular provides guidance in relation to second opinions under the Mental Health Order, and provides notification of an amendment to the Mental Health (NI) Order 1986 relating to second opinions.  The circular is issued in direct response to current pressures relating to the Coronavirus.

Download the circular (DOC).

The purpose of this circular is to make you aware of amendments to mental health and mental capacity legislation to relax safeguards during coronavirus pressures. 

View the circular (PDF)

For psychiatrists who have been enquiring if there is any specific guidance on the management of ADHD during the COVID-19 crisis.  We have been advised that the Belfast Trust is adhering to the guidance issued by the UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN), and would ask you to refer to this guidance. 

Link to the guidance

Guidance had been drafted which summarises the changes which are likely to be relevant to psychiatry following the amendments to the Mental Health Order. They will apply mostly to psychiatrists working in General, CAP or Old Age Psychiatry.

We would ask you to PLEASE seek advice or refer to the actual legislation and Code of Practice in cases of any doubt. Please remember that these new provisions should only be used when the ‘usual’ powers cannot.

Due to staff shortages consequent upon the impact of the Coronavirus crisis, the criteria for detention have not changed and the person’s human rights should be at the forefront of decision making.

Read the guidance (PDF)

This updated guidance was agreed by the ECT Leads in each of the five Trusts in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Read the document (PDF)

'Personally Seen' and 'Personally Examined'

Members should note the contents of the latest circular issued by the Department of Health. This circular includes advice on how to interpret 'personally seen' and 'personally examined' in the MHO (NI) 1986, in that remote working is not permissible and the person carrying out the statutory function must be physically present.

Read the document