Most mental health professionals believe the government’s
planned supervised discharge orders will not work, reveals a survey
by the Labour Party.
The orders, contained in the Mental Health (Patients in the
Community) Bill, which is passing through Parliament, will require
potentially dangerous or vulnerable psychiatric patients living in
the community to attend certain places for education or
The survey of professionals found that more than two-thirds felt
the measure will not improve after-care, while one-third believed
it would damage the relationship with the client.
Some professionals argued that the ‘arresting powers’, which
will be given to community psychiatric nurses and approved social
workers will only serve to weaken a patient’s trust in
One respondent said: ‘The therapeutic/caring role could suffer
greatly if the patients view the nurses as “agents of control”.’
Another respondent said that using the police to convey the patient
might be similarly problematic.
Other respondents highlighted the practical difficulties of
‘conveying’ the patients. One commented: ‘Beyond persuasion, to
what extent are we expecting supervisors to physically cajole
patients into their care, and to what extent would they be putting
themselves at risk both of prosecution and physical attack if they
Lack of provision was cited as the main problem in community
care. One respondent said the major flaw in the government’s bill
is ‘the assumption that full after-care services are available
The research was carried out by David Hinchliffe MP, outgoing
Labour spokesperson for community care, who wrote to all purchasers
and providers of mental health services in England, receiving 104
Meanwhile, four MPs have jointly tabled an early day motion,
drafted by MIND, in opposition to the bill.
The early day motion opposes the government’s plan to introduce
the power to ‘convey’ a psychiatric patient to a place of treatment
The MPs are Alice Mahon and Hugh Bayley (Labour), and Nigel
Jones and Nick Harvey (Liberal Democrat).
And a group of voluntary agencies are to publish a report Care
Not Coercion, defining opposition to the planned measure this
World Mental Health Day last week was marked by the announcement
of a new awards scheme for service providers.
Junior health minister John Bowis used the day to announce a
scheme ‘to reward good practice in mental health services’. Details
will be released in the next few months.THUMBS UP: A young visitor
admires entries to a celebrity palm-printing event in Bradford,
organised by local agencies to raise awareness of mental health
issues on World Mental Health Day last week