Government announces Mental Health Act reform
The Government has announced new legislation to reform mental health care following the publication of an independent review.
The new Mental Health Bill accepts two recommendations to modernise the Mental Health Act in the final report from the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983.
Under the reform, those detained under the Act will be allowed to nominate a person of their choice to be involved in decisions about their care. People will also be able to express preference for care and treatment and have these listed in statutory ‘advance choice’ documents.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The disparity in our mental health services is one of the burning injustices this country faces that we must put right.
“By bringing forward this historic legislation – the new Mental Health Bill – we can ensure people are in control of their care, and are receiving the right treatment and support they need.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock added: “With 1 in 4 people being affected by mental ill health at some point in their lives, it is more important than ever that we put mental and physical health on an equal footing.
“I am determined to do everything I can to protect people’s mental health and get them the help they need. The proposed new Mental Health Bill will give patients more control over their treatment and make sure that our mental health laws are fit for the modern age.”
The Government will issue a formal response to the review’s recommendations in the New Year before preparing the new legislation.
The announcement came as the Government’s Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, which has attracted strong opposition, continues to make its way through Parliament.
Judy Downey, Chair and CEO of The Relatives & Residents Association, told CHP that it was a pity that the Government had missed the opportunity of reviewing the two pieces of legislation together.
Judy said: “This review emphasises that patients should also be able to get a second opinion about their treatment more quickly and choose a nominated person to be their ‘nearest relative’ to act as their advocate, rather than being allocated one, as at present. They or those representing those deprived of their liberty under the MCA should have similar rights of challenge, review and advocacy and access to law. However, without a massive expansion of resources devoted to people deprived of their liberty in all settings, little will change.”