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Revised code of practice for the Mental Health Act published

Friday, 16 January 2015 Mind

The Department of Health has published a revised code of practice for the Mental Health Act.

The revised code makes many welcome changes including a greater emphasis on involving people who are under section in decisions about their care and providing more personalised care. It has more to say on complaints, safeguarding and how implementation of the code fits into the Care Quality Commission’s approach to regulating and rating health and care organisations.

It contains new and updated chapters on:

  • Guiding principles
  • Human rights, equality and health inequalities
  • Mental capacity and the deprivation of liberty
  • Police powers and places of safety
  • Safe and therapeutic responses to behavioural disturbance
  • Care planning.

For the first time the code sets out duties towards people detained under immigration legislation who are moved to hospital under the Mental Health Act.

Other examples of ways in which the code has been strengthened include:

  • Blanket restrictions (ie restrictions that apply to all patients in a particular setting) should be avoided

  • People who lack capacity to decide whether or not to obtain help from an independent mental health advocate (IMHA) should be introduced to one

  • Local authorities should ensure there are sufficient numbers of IMHAs with a specialised understanding of the specific needs of particular groups, including people from minority cultural or ethnic backgrounds

  • In deciding whether to use a community treatment order (CTO), responsible clinicians should take account of the patient’s views, and other factors are likely to include the patient’s capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment and their attitude to treatment and risk of relapse.

Mind is part of the Mental Health Alliance, a coalition of 75 organisations working for fair implementation of the Mental Health Act in England and Wales.

Suzanne Hudson, Chair of the Mental Health Alliance and CEO of Bipolar UK, said:
“The revised Code of Practice includes greater involvement of patients and better safeguarding of patients’ rights. All of us involved in the care of people subject to the Act need to take on board these welcome changes.

“However, guidance can only go as far as the legislation allows, and the Act itself is outdated, discriminatory and requires significant review. Most fundamentally, people can be forcibly treated for mental health problems against their will regardless of their capacity to make decisions about their healthcare. This cannot happen in any other area of health care.

“Whoever forms our next government must review the current legislation and ensure sufficient investment in mental health services to end the disparity between physical and mental health care.”

The code is subject to Parliamentary approval and will come into force on 1 April 2015.

Stronger Code: Better Care is the Government’s response to the consultation on the draft revised code and it includes their action plan which also draws from the Equality analysis.

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