Mental health care to transform thanks to reforms

The government is accepting two recommendations to modernise the Mental Health Act, reforming care by allowing patients to express their preferences for care and treatment.

Following the publication of the final report from the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983, the government will allow those detained under the Act to nominate a person of their choice to be involved in decisions about their care and will enable people to express their preferences for care and treatment and have these listed in statutory ‘advance choice’ documents.

The government will issue a formal response to the review’s recommendations in the New Year before preparing the new legislation.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The disparity in our mental health services is one of the burning injustices this country faces that we must put right. For decades it has somehow been accepted that if you have a mental illness, you will not receive the same access to treatment as if you have a physical ailment. Well, that is not acceptable.

“I commissioned this review because I am determined to make sure those suffering from mental health issues are treated with dignity and respect, with their liberty and autonomy respected. By bringing forward this historic legislation – the new Mental Health Bill – we can ensure people are in control of their care, and are receiving the right treatment and support they need.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “With one in four people being affected by mental ill health at some point in their lives, it is more important than ever that we put mental and physical health on an equal footing. I am determined to do everything I can to protect people’s mental health and get them the help they need. The proposed new Mental Health Bill will give patients more control over their treatment and make sure that our mental health laws are fit for the modern age.”

The 18-month review recommended a number of changes, including: new rights for patients to legally challenge their treatment; more frequent opportunities to challenge detention; legally binding advanced care plans so patients could express how they wanted to be treated if they were sectioned; a requirement for doctors to record when and why they chose to ignore patient requests; and an end to police cells being used as a place of safety and less frequent use of police cars to transport patients.

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