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New Mental Health Bill to be introduced

The goverment has pledged to introduce a new Mental Health Bill following an independent review of the Mental Health Act 1983.

The Prime Minister commissioned Professor Sir Simon Wessely to carry out an independent review of the Mental Health Act 1983 in October 2017,to make improvements following rising detention rates, racial disparities in detention and concerns that the Act is out of step with a modern mental health system.

Folllowing the publication of his review, the government has already accepted two of the review’s recommendations to modernise the Mental Health Act and 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," she added.

The government is accepting two of the review’s recommendations:

People detained under the Mental Health Act will be allowed to nominate a person of their choice to be involved in decisions about their care. Currently, they have no say on which relative is contacted. This can lead to distant or unknown relatives being called upon to make important decisions about their care when they are at their most vulnerable.

Secondly, people will also be able to express their preferences for care and treatment and have these listed in statutory ‘advance choice’ documents where patients and service users are encouraged to voice their views about any future inpatient care and treatment which they might need.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "With 1 in 4 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," he added.

President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Glen Garrod, said: "ADASS has been pleased to be involved in this review. The recommendations in this report are welcome as a contribution to the modernisation of this country’s mental health services, which are about giving people who need these services more control and the specific support they need.

“Good mental health services are required both in and outside of hospital settings, and involve housing, primary and community health services and adult social care.

“Social work and personal care and support are essential components of good services to support mental wellbeing, and can include ensuring people have somewhere to live, have safe and supportive relationships, and support with income and employment.

“We look forward to working with colleagues across health and social care to consider how the review’s recommendations will complement the priorities of the Adult Social Care Green Paper and the NHS Long-Term Plan, and then to implement the plans together. It is essential that the health and care system works together to deliver integrated care for those who need health and care services," he added.

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