Department of Health
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Government welcomes passing of Mental Health Bill as vital to community care

Government welcomes passing of Mental Health Bill as vital to community care

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release (2007/0191) issued by The Government News Network on 5 July 2007

Health minster Ivan Lewis and mental health tsar Professor Louis Appleby both welcomed the final stages of the parliamentary passage of the Mental Health Bill as a vital step towards modern community services.

The Bill, which completed its passage through Parliament on 4 July, will allow psychiatrists to require patients to take treatment following discharge from hospital if they are a risk to themselves or others. It will also strengthen patients' rights by providing advocacy support for anyone who is detained, and create new roles for experienced non-medical professionals.

Health minister Ivan Lewis said:

"The Mental Health Bill makes mental health law fit for purpose in the 21st century. We will consult publicly in the autumn on the Code of Practice and on regulations to underpin the legislation, and a comprehensive implementation programme is in place. As Minister with responsibility for Mental Health, I look forward to implementing these changes within the wider framework of investing in and improving mental health services. We will look to do this in partnership with the many stakeholders in mental health services, and with service users and their representatives."

Professor Louis Appleby says:

"I am delighted the Mental Health Bill has been passed with all the main government proposals intact, and that we were able to reach agreement with the MPs and peers who expressed concerns about aspects of the Bill.

"These new measures will enable some people with serious mental health problems to be treated in the community under supervision, so that their condition can be properly monitored and steps taken to prevent relapse. This is good for the patients, their families and for the public generally. The Bill will also make it easier for patients with personality disorder to get the treatment they need."

The Bill makes several improvements to previous legislation, including:

new powers to place patients who have been detained in hospital on Community Treatment Orders, which will ensure that patients comply with their treatment. This will allow patients to be treated in the community, and will reduce the risk of their relapsing. CTOs are already used in Scotland and in other countries;

a new requirement that patients can only be detained if appropriate treatment is available for their mental disorder or to treat its symptoms and manifestations;

children and young people to receive treatment for a mental disorder in an environment that is suitable for their age and geared to meet their needs. This builds on a commitment made last November to ensure that, within two years, no child under 16 years of age is treated on an adult ward. Now all hospital managers will have a duty to ensure that all patients aged under 18 are placed in suitable settings, unless needs dictate otherwise.

statutory advocacy services will be introduced to support patients detained under the Mental Health Act and to champion their rights.

more rights for victims of violent and sexual crimes committed by mentally disordered offenders - they will now know when offenders are discharged back into the community and have the right to make representations about their discharge.

tackling two Human Rights incompatibilities, one in relation to the arrangements for Nearest Relatives under the Mental Health Act and the other in relation to safeguards for people deprived of their liberty in their best interests who do not meet the criteria for treatment and safeguards under the Mental Health Act.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Mental Health Bill has passed for Royal Assent by the House of Commons.

2. For more than 150 years, it has been recognised that there are occasions when it is necessary to detain someone with a mental health problem, and treat them without their consent, in order to protect them and the public. The Mental Health Act, which dictated when this can happen, had not been updated since 1983 and was in urgent need of modernisation.

3. The previous Mental Health Act, which the new Bill updates, had two major flaws. Firstly, it led to some people with personality disorders being denied treatment with the risk that such patients might harm themselves or others. Secondly, the legislation covered treatment in hospital under direct medical supervision, but it does not cover care in the community - the place where someone is most likely to recover and rebuild their lives. Modern mental health services tend to be community-based, and delivered by multi-disciplinary professional teams. The new Bill reflects the modern pattern of services.


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