The Queens speech announced 38 pieces of legislation announced in the amongst them is the introduction of a Bill of Rights to “restore the balance of power between the legislature and the courts. The Bill of Rights will replace the Human Rights Act.
There is also to be draft legislation to be brought forward to reform the Mental Health Act in England and Wales.
The main proposals in the Bill build on the recommendations made in the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 2018.
“This is a significant moment in how we support those with serious mental health issues. It will give people more autonomy over their care and will tackle disparities for all who access services, in particular for people from minority ethnic backgrounds”. Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary
The purpose of the draft Bill is to:
- Ensure patients suffering from mental health conditions have greater control over their treatment and receive the dignity and respect they deserve.
- Make it easier for people with learning disabilities and autism to be discharged from hospital.
The main benefits of the draft Bill would be:
- Modernising the Act so that it is fit for the 21st century and provides a framework for services in which people experiencing the most serious mental health conditions can receive more personalised care, with more choice and influence over their treatment and a greater focus on recovery.
- Helping to address the existing disparities in the use of the Act for people from ethnic minority backgrounds – especially for detentions and for the use of Community Treatment Orders.
- Ensuring that detentions only happen where strictly necessary.
- Improving how we support offenders with acute mental health needs, ensuring they have access
to the right treatment, in the right setting, at the right time – with faster transfers from prison to
hospital, and new powers to discharge patients into the community while ensuring the public is protected.
The main elements of the draft Bill are:
- Amending the definition of mental disorder so that people can no longer be detained solely because they have a learning disability or because they are autistic.
- Changing the criteria needed to detain people, so that the Act is only used where strictly necessary: where the person is a genuine risk to their own safety or that of others, and where there is a clear therapeutic benefit.
- Giving patients better support, including offering everyone the option of an independent mental health advocate, and allowing patients to choose their own ‘nominated person’, rather than have a ‘nearest relative’ assigned for them.
- Introducing a 28-day time-limit for transfers from prison to hospital for acutely ill prisoners and ending the temporary use of prison for those awaiting assessment or treatment.
- Introducing a new form of supervised community discharge. This will allow the discharge of restricted patients into the community, with the necessary care and supervision to adequately and appropriately manage their risk.
- Increasing the frequency with which patients can make appeals to Tribunals on their detention and provide Tribunals with a power to recommend that aftercare services are put in place.
- Introducing a statutory care and treatment plan for all patients in detention. This will be written with the patient and will set out a clear pathway to discharge.
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