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Proposals to revise the Mental Health Act 1983 will be considered by Parliament over the next year, the government announced today in the Queen’s Speech.
He will produce legislation to reduce the number of detentions, address long-standing racial disparities in the use of compulsory powers and end the detention of people solely on the grounds that they are autistic or have disabilities. learning disabilities.
The bill will likely be considered by a parliamentary committee, a process that will inform the production of comprehensive legislation to reform the law – although it is unclear when this will be published.
Reform plans are based on government recommendations Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, whose final report was published in December 2018, and a follow-up white paper produced in January 2021.
The government said the proposals aimed to give people greater control over their treatment and more dignity in care, and to reduce reliance on hospital care for people with autism and those with learning disabilities.
Specific proposals in the bill will include:
- Change the definition of a mental disorder so that people can no longer be detained solely on the basis of autism or a learning disability. They should have a concurrent mental health issue. Currently, people with a learning disability may be subject to the powers of the law if it is “associated with abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct”, while autism is classified as a “mental disorder” for the purposes of the law.
- Change the criteria for detention so that the powers of the law can only be used if there is a “real risk to [the person’s] own safety or that of others, and where there is a clear therapeutic benefit”. Currently, a person may be detained for assessment if necessary for the health and safety of the person or the protection of others, and for treatment if any of these conditions exist, appropriate treatment is available and cannot be provided than in detention.
- Allowing people to choose a ‘designated person’ to support and represent them when under the powers of law, rather than having a ‘next of kin’ assigned to them.
- Increase the frequency with which people can appeal to the courts about their detention and give the courts the power to recommend the establishment of follow-up services.
- Introduce a statutory care and treatment plan for all people in detention, written with them and setting out a clear path to release.
Legislation “is not enough on its own”
The bill has been welcomed by NHS providers, who represent health trusts, but he said accompanying measures needed to be taken to increase funding for mental health services, improve the wellbeing of a workforce strained by Covid and tackling racial inequality in the mind. Health care.
Director of Policy and Strategy Miriam Deakin said: “We support the proposed changes to the law which will give people a greater voice in planning their care and recovery. It will be important that the draft law reflect consideration of the practical implementation of a number of proposals.
“A new Mental Health Act alone will not be enough to ensure high quality mental health services or transform the way we provide them for years to come. Mental health services are under great pressure due to huge demand and limited resources.