Government pledges new Mental Health Act after review urges shift in power from professionals to patients

Mental Health - Sectionedsource:: Community Care
published: 6 December 2018

The government has committed to introduce a Mental Health Bill to transform care for detained patients after an independent review recommended new legislation that placed people’s rights, choices and dignity at its heart.

Following today’s publication of the final report of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983, the government has, so far, accepted two of its recommendations: (see the full report here)

  • To replace the nearest relative role, in which a patient is allocated a relative to be involved in decisions about their care, with that of a nominated person that they would choose
  • To allow people to make statutory advance choice documents setting out their preferences for inpatient treatment, which clinicians must honour unless there are compelling reasons not to

Both of these will be in the Mental Health Bill and the government will give more detail on the legislation and its response to the review in the New Year.

Four principles
The review’s recommendations are designed to transform the law on the detention and compulsory treatment of people with serious mental health problems around four principles:

  • Choice and autonomy – ensuring people’s views and choices are respected
  • Least restriction – ensuring the act’s powers are used in the least restrictive way
  • Therapeutic benefit – ensuring people are supported to get better so they can be discharged from the act
  • The person as an individual – ensuring people are viewed and treated as rounded individuals

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