When the government finally dropped its second draft mental health bill earlier this year, many social care practitioners celebrated. Surely the third attempt to update the Mental Health Act 1983 would be more conciliatory.
Well, no such luck – the latest version is, if anything, even harsher.
Compulsory community treatment and approved mental health professionals instead of approved social workers are still the order of the day, added to which the government has carried out its threat to scrap plans for independent advocacy and delay the introduction of an improved tribunal system to protect clients.
The government tried to justify its tough stance by linking the bill to the inquiry into John Barrett, who killed a man after escaping from a south London institution. Yet nothing in the bill would have prevented this tragedy and, instead, once again clients will be the victims of this government’s taste for populism rather than reason. Serious investment in first class mental health services would have made much more sense than this bill.