The public has a chance to influence how people with serious mental health needs are held against their will, in a government consultation running until 21 April 2021.
The Mental Health Act allows people to be detained on mental health wards (also known as being ‘sectioned’) or be subject to compulsory treatment in the community. But following concerns about rising numbers of sectioned patients, especially a disproportionate number of black and minority ethnic people, the government has published proposals to overhaul the legislation, first introduced in 1983.
Do you agree with the changes?
The government is proposing:
- people are detained only when ‘absolutely necessary’
- shorter detention periods
- a focus during detention on making people well
- giving patients more choice and autonomy about their treatment
- equal and fair treatment that tackles disparities for BAME people
- better treatment of people with a learning disability or autism
- more powers for independent mental health advocates (IMHAs)
IMHAs for local mental health inpatients at Prospect Park Hospital, are provided by Reading Voice, the advocacy service run by Healthwatch Reading. We are independent of the NHS and go onto wards to help patients understand their rights.
Under the reforms, IMHAs would get more opportunities to challenge treatment decisions if they don’t believe these are in the patient’s best interests as well an expanded role in supporting patients to take part in care planning.
A new duty could also be placed on NHS and local government to ‘ensure adequacy of supply of community services for people with a learning disability and autistic people’.