New statistics show more people sectioned than ever before
Posted Thursday 29 March 2007
Admissions under the Mental Health Act hit a record high last year, prompting fears that the Government's planned 'psychiatric Asbos' will be overused.
New figures released by the Department of Health today reveal that more people than ever before were compulsorily admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act in 2005/6. The number of these detentions has been rising year on year since the Act's introduction in 1983, contrary to expectations at the time that there would be no such increase.
Mind is concerned that further restrictive measures proposed in the current Mental Health Bill - the controversial Compulsory Treatment Orders (CTOs), known as 'psychatric Asbos' - will also sweep far more people up into compulsory treatment that predicted, diverting resource unhelpfully from the services so desperately needed by people when they first become ill. The Government says that CTOs will only be applied to a very small group of people, around 1,400, yet independent research by the King's Fund health thinktank showed that the figure is likely to be ten times higher. Even that, Mind believes, is conservative (2). With more and more people being detained under the Mental Health Act, Government estimates of the use of CTOs simply aren't believable.
At today's debate on the current Mental Health Bill (Mind's Annual Conference, Bournemouth), professionals and service users expressed anger and frustration over the Government's continued commitment to reform proposals that experts believe are seriously misguided. For 8 years, the views of doctors, psychiatrists, charities, researchers, and most importantly people with mental health problems, have continued to be ignored. The Bill is expected in the Commons next month, having been substantially amended by peers, unhappy with its dramatic and wide-ranging powers.
Compulsory Treatment Orders (CTOs) will extend compulsory treatment beyond hospital and into people's homes. These draconian measures would allow doctors the ability to specify a treatment and lifestyle regime patients would be obliged to comply with in their own homes. Experts have long said that CTOs are of no therapeutic value, and the Government's own research, only released after the Lords debate on the Bill, backs this up.
Speaking from the charity's annual conference in Bournemouth, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
"People who use mental health services are deeply worried about this Mental Health Bill, and its power to extend compulsion into their own homes. Mental health legislation is very powerful - it deals with people when they are at their most vulnerable, and is the only legislation that can force people to have medical treatment against their will. It must be very carefully crafted.
"The Government are ploughing ahead with this Bill in the face of opposition from all the experts, including the people that the Bill would affect, both service users and professionals. Their own research has shown that Compulsory Treatment Orders have no therapeutic value. There are particular concerns about impact on black and minority ethnic communities - last week's Count Me In census showed that Afro-Caribbean people are 38 per cent more likely to be sectioned than others, and research shows that they are also more likely to be subject to Compulsory Treatment Orders."
"People with mental health problems need better health services, not more legislation."
1) In-patients formally detained in hospitals under the Mental Health Act 1983 and other legislation, NHS Trusts, Care Trusts, Primary Care Trusts and Independent Hospitals; 2005-06 [NS]
2) Mind says new research reveals incompetence of Government's plans for compulsory treatment: ten times as many people could be affected