Mind hails victories in House of Lords on Mental Health Bill
Posted Tuesday 20 February 2007
Lord Carlile: "Clinicians are not there simply to be turnkeys, they are there to provide health improvements to their patients" (Monday 19 February, House of Lords)
Mind welcomes key votes last night on crucial amendments to the Mental Health Bill. The House of Lords has voted to ensure that people are only detained for treatment when it can actually treat their mental health problems, and also to ensure that people are only detained when they have a mental health condition - not if they have solely a drug or alcohol condition, sexual deviancy or cultural/religious/political beliefs.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind today said "A mental health system is exactly that - a system that can treat people's health. There must be no risk of abuse by allowing people to be given strong medication or electro-convulsive therapy against their wishes and with no need for it to benefit them.
Under the current law, no mental disorder, including a personality disorder, is classed as 'untreatable'. But there is a desperate lack of appropriate services for people with personality disorders and provision remains patchy.
There are some very rare cases where a person might have a type of dangerous and severe personality disorder with no recognisable treatable 'health' problem, and has also been assessed as being 'at risk'. But legislative solutions should not rest in mental health - you cannot ask doctors to act as jailers, detaining such a person in the health system. Health legislation must focus on health problems.
We look forward to further opportunities to improve the Bill as it returns to the Lords on Monday, including the right to mental health assessment when people first approach services and the right to an advocate when sectioned."
Michael Stone case - legislation proposals would have made no difference
This headline case led to the initial introduction of Government proposals. Yet Michael Stone's inquiry report shows that he was never refused treatment because he was 'untreatable' - instead he had a long history of contact with, and treatment by, mental health, drugs and alcohol services. At one point he could not be admitted into a general psychiatric ward simply because no medium secure beds were available not because current legislation didn't allow him to be. The Government's current legislation would have made no change to this situation - the key point here is investment in services and beds when people need them, not a change in law.