New Mental Health Bill a missed opportunity
Posted Wednesday 8 September 2004
Two years after the Government published its draft Mental Health Bill to universal opposition from mental health service users, charities and mental healthcare professionals, the Government today publishes a revised draft for parliamentary pre-legislative scrutiny (PLS).
Since 2002 Mind has been a core member of the Mental Health Alliance, a coalition of over 60 professional bodies and non-governmental organisations. Together the Alliance has been campaigning for legislation that would provide the basis for a modern mental health system delivering effective and compassionate mental healthcare.
Mind believes that proposed measures for compulsory treatment in the community will alienate service users from mental healthcare workers, making it less likely that they will seek the care they need for fear of being unjustifiably detained.
Richard Brook, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
"We are disappointed that the Government has not adequately addressed the profound misgivings of both service users and medical practitioners. The Mental Health Alliance believed that the Bill was an opportunity to revise outdated laws and to provide a well-managed, humane mental health system for the 21st century. This revised draft does not move us towards this.
Mind in particular is concerned that proposals to introduce compulsory treatment in the community have been retained - when they are neither workable nor necessary. What they do is introduce fear and mistrust into a therapeutic relationship, something that is completely counterproductive and could lead to many thousands of people being reluctant to seek the care that they need.
The Bill is more palatable than the previous draft, but it is still fundamentally flawed. Compulsion must be a means of last resort - the Government must understand that what a person in crisis needs above all else, is care and compassion."
Yesterday Mind released research outlining shocking and untherapeutic conditions in psychiatric inpatient wards in England and Wales. Today it expressed concern that a Bill in its proposed form would exacerbate resource and staffing pressures and make improvements to ward conditions harder to deliver.
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