Comments on the mental health bill announcement
Mental Health Alliance chair Paul Farmer said: “We are now in uncharted waters. The government’s plans to bolt-on these amendments to an outdated Mental Health Act will need careful consideration and full consultation. We will continue our campaign to ensure that the amended act both respects civil rights and protects the public.”
Angela Greatley, chief executive of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, said: “The government’s decision to revise its plans for the Mental Health Act provide an important opportunity to bring forward a more workable alternative to its previous proposals. But the devil will be in the detail and some of the new plans are a cause for concern.”
Sophie Corlett, Mind’s policy director, said: “These proposals leave a lot still to be decided. We still don’t have a decision on how the tribunal system will operate under these amendments, and this will determine how long people can be detained for. The Government must listen to the concerns of mental health organisations to ensure that the rights of people detained under this legislation are upheld.”
Matilda MacAttram, senior health consultant for The 1990 Trust: “It is important that we monitor the government’s next steps as the battle is by no means over. The bill as it was proposed would dramatically increase current disadvantages for Black people. We are pleased the government has abandoned the bill, but the challenge now is to make sure the measures that do come forward are non-discriminatory.”
Dr Tony Zigmond, honorary vice-president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: “An ethical, non-stigmatising and workable Mental Health Act is achievable and must continue to be our aim. An important principle must be that we only deprive people of their liberty when we can offer treatment that will be of benefit to them.”
SPN Director, Terry Bamford, said: “There is a concern that the government agenda remains driven by sensationalistic media coverage portraying mental health service users as a danger to the public, rather than by a vision of a modern, decent and humane mental health system that puts the health needs and human rights of mental health service users first. Mental health service users, carers, practitioners, civil liberties and legal organisations need to continue being vigilant and to campaign vigorously to ensure we get a mental health system fit for the 21st century”.
Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior said: “It is disturbing that the government has ruled out formal consultation over its proposals. Over the last eight years, the input from service users, carers and concerned MPs and peers has been crucial in identifying the most draconian and unworkable elements of the government’s plans. It has been consultation that has saved the government from its own worst excesses.”