The independent review of the Mental Health Act 1983 has published its interim report.
Commissioned by the Prime Minister and chaired by Professor Sir Simon Wessely, the review is looking at how the legislation is used and how practice can improve.
The interim report has identified key priority areas likely to be the focus of the full report which will make recommendations to Government in Autumn this year, such as a lack of dignity and respect, high numbers of people being held against their will, disproportionate detentions among people from BAME backgrounds and the need for greater advocacy and support.
Responding to this report, Geoff Heyes, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, said:
“We’ve long been calling for a review of the Mental Health Act, an outdated piece of legislation that allows people to be forced to have mental health treatment without their consent. We urgently need to address the high number of detentions happening under the Act, and the fact that you’re more likely to be held under section if you’re from a BAME background. We welcome this interim review, and are pleased to see that lots of our own concerns – and those of the people we represent and have supported to feed into the consultation – have been echoed.
“We are glad to see in particular reference to specific problems with parts of the Act such as the ‘nearest relative’. At the moment, your ‘nearest relative’ is automatically appointed from a fixed list and gets to make decisions about your care. The person appointed may be somebody you don’t want involved in your care, or who doesn’t have your best interests at heart, and it’s difficult and expensive to change. Similarly the interim report brings into question the efficacy of Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) which can be used when you are well enough to leave hospital, to impose certain rules such as the treatment you have and where you live. They are supposed to stop people ending up back in hospital, but the evidence shows they don’t work.
“The report also recognises that the Act can’t be looked at in isolation without also addressing wider problems with mental health services and how people can be supported so that the chances of them reaching a crisis point is reduced. We hope that all these recommendations are taken on board by the Government and look forward to seeing the recommendations made when the full report comes out later this year.”
Crisis Care Parliament