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29 April 2021

Mental Health Act white paper response from Bindmans

2 mins

Bindmans LLP has responded to a consultation on the Mental Health Act by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The consultation was prompted by an independent review of the Mental Health Act conducted by Professor Sir Simon Wessely.

The Mental Health Act 1983 gives significant powers of detention to psychiatric hospitals over vulnerable mental health patients. It governs decision-making in clinical settings and creates the statutory basis for patients’ right to appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal for independent oversight of the use of these restrictive powers. Some of the components of the Act have been criticised as being outdated and out of step with modern society and patient care for many years.

While we welcome some of the government’s proposals which are targeted at reducing admissions of BAME patients and those diagnosed with autism or learning difficulties, we are concerned that some of the proposals do not go far enough – while others could have the opposite effect. You can read more in our blog here.

Basmah Sahib, solicitor in our Mental Health team, said:

A review of the Mental Health Act has been long awaited and is very welcome. However, some of the proposed reforms will do nothing to improve patient care unless there is a commitment from government to fund community-based services.

The NHS remains chronically underfunded, contributing to a lack of mental health care until it is too late for patients and the only way to safely administer treatment is while detained in a psychiatric hospital. Legislation alone is not enough to protect the BAME community and those with autism or learning difficulties from being subject to needlessly excessive, restrictive practices.

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