Professionals ‘have nothing to fear’ from change in mental health laws

Social workers’ role in deciding whether to detain patients with
mental health problems will not be watered down under the draft
mental health bill, a Department of Health official told

Adrian Sieff, DoH head of mental health legislation, said he
expected the majority of approved mental health professionals
(AMHPs) to be social workers, allaying fears they would lose their

But he added that enabling other workers to also take on the AMHP
role would help relieve resource and workforce pressures.

Sieff defended the proposed legislation and pleaded with delegates
to “put on different glasses, take a different perspective and look
at things differently”. But he later admitted that the bill was
being “refined” in light of the consultation responses.

The notion of compulsion in the community was about providing the
“least restrictive alternative”, he said, compared with current
legislation where a patient must be detained in hospital. The
threshold for compulsion in the community would be the same as for
hospital, and not any lower, he added.

Meanwhile, Robert McLean, chairperson of the Approved Social Worker
Interest Group, said three-quarters of the responses to the
government’s consultation on the bill thought the role of the ASW
should remain and that the proposed legislation was medically

Later, Paul Farmer, chairperson of the Mental Health Alliance, said
the bill was “too important to be kicked around as a political
football”, adding that compulsion should always be seen as the last

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