Mind concerned as Government still promotes Bill of compulsion not compassion
Posted Wednesday 13 July 2005
Lord Carlile (Joint Committee, 23 May 2005):
the Bill is fundamentally flawed ... too focused on addressing public misconception about violence and mental illness, and does not do enough to protect patients' rights.
Mental health charity Mind today expresses grave concerns that the "listening" Government, relying on a "we know best" attitude, has rejected key evidence from the mental health stakeholders best placed to advise them, along with the report from the Scrutiny Committee in overwhelming support of this evidence - demonstrating that the current draft Mental Health Bill is unethical and unworkable.
Mind welcomes the following positive changes announced to the Bill:
- improvement in patient rights with advance directives
- compulsory treatment will no longer be used for those with only alcohol or drug problems
- addition of key principles on the face of the Bill
- but these must contain the detail to capture the crucial values that should drive the legislation.
However, Mind still has major concerns over:
- the Government's refusal to ensure that any treatment must have a therapeutic benefit
- its insistence that the Bill is not about service provision but about dangerousness and compulsion
- mental capacity - the Government has rejected the capacity test for compulsory treatment (included in the Scottish Mental Health Act 2003)
- failure to recognise a need for separate legislation for people with a mental disorder who pose a public danger but cannot be treated.
It is vital that the Government resists the temptation to bring in headline-driven legislation. The myth is that homicides by people with mental health problems have risen sharply as part of care in the community - in fact there has been no increase in such murder rates over the last 40 years. Mind believes that a Bill that induces fear of compulsory treatment into the many ordinary people with mental health problems will drive them away from seeking the help they need.
Richard Brook, Chief Executive of Mind said:
"Over the last seven years, we have seen a Green Paper, a White Paper and two draft Bills, that each time we have hoped will provide the necessary legislation to deliver a workable mental health system delivering effective and compassionate mental healthcare. Yet sadly the Government has still not fully listened to the advice of the mental health stakeholders across the board.
"However, the inclusion of some welcome benefits gives us hope essential further changes will be possible. It is vital that we continue to campaign for further improvements to prevent a stigmatising Bill that could undermine the recent progress in mental health services."