Mental health workload would double under draft bill

The proposals set out in the draft mental health bill could
double the mental health workload for professionals and lead to a
workforce crisis, a report by the NHS Confederation warns,
writes Katie Leason.

The organisation for NHS employers warned that under the
proposals, social workers, psychiatrists and administrative staff
would have to spend double the amount of time they currently spend
implementing the Mental Health Act 1983. An extra 1,000 staff would
be needed just to manage existing caseloads.

Clinicians could be forced into rationing resources and giving
treatment to patients who are formally detained, to the
disadvantage of those not subject to mental health legislation, the
report added.

It concluded: “Mental health services are already hard
pressed and affected by staff shortages in key areas. We are not
yet convinced that the benefits of new legislation, as currently
drafted, are commensurate with the extra process time.”

The increase is largely due to the proposal for all cases to go
through a new mental health tribunal when requiring compulsory
treatment beyond 28 days. Currently, a tribunal is only required if
a service user applies. Estimates suggest there would be an
immediate increase of between 60 and 100 per cent in the number of

Paul Farmer, chairperson of the Mental Health Alliance, said
that the draft bill threatens to “overwhelm” health and
social care staff, and risks people who do not need compulsory
treatment being neglected.

‘Assessment of implications of new mental health legislation on
mental health service organisations’ from    

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