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Mind responds to changes to the Mental Health Act in emergency Covid-19 legislation

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 Mind

Responding to the Government’s announcement of emergency legislation, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, the mental health charity, said:

“The Government’s emergency coronavirus laws include measures that could severely impact the rights of people with mental health problems detained for hospital treatment.

“The legislation will be in place for up to two years and powers can be switched on or off by each of the four UK governments, based on staffing levels. Under the emergency laws the decision to section someone could be made by fewer health professionals and some time limits on detention might be extended or suspended. We recognise that these steps might be necessary to enable the health system to operate with extreme staff shortages but this cannot be at the expense of safeguarding the some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“The last thing we want to see is people left languishing in hospital without regular reviews of why they’re there or proper representation and advice, particularly amidst such high demand on hospital beds.

“This announcement also comes at a time when a long-overdue White Paper was expected to address pre-existing injustices in the way people are sectioned and treated in hospital. At the earliest possible opportunity the Government must act to change mental health laws to strengthen people’s rights in the long-term.

“We will closely follow the introduction and effects of these measures and make sure that the voices, rights and choices of people with mental health problems are not forgotten.”

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