Health minister Rosie Winterton has signalled that the government may be willing to pump more money than expected into a national advocacy service for people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions.
Winterton said she would “respond positively” to concerns about funding as part of the government’s response to the consultation on the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) service.
Campaigners had been concerned that the government’s proposal to allocate an average of four hours of advocacy per decison for each eligible person was an insufficient amount of time.
Winterton was speaking at the launch of a year-long IMCA pilot project in Warrington, run by independent provider Advocacy Matters.
The government has proposed to limit the IMCA service to people without capacity who face important medical or residence decisions and who do not have someone to rely on for advice.
But Winterton told the event she was keeping an “open mind” about whether the scheme could be extended, depending on the results of the eight pilots.
The service is expected to be rolled out nationally in April 2007.
The minister also said that while advocacy and improvements to the mental health tribunal system would not be included in promised amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983, she would look at other ways of building up both services.