Compromise on Mental Health Bill, former minister urges government

The government was yesterday urged by a former health minister to compromise on the inclusion of overarching principles strengthening patients’ rights in the Mental Health Bill.

Lord Warner, who retired from office last month, made the call during the first day of the bill’s committee stage in the Lords.

While opposing some of the principles proposed in an amendment from Conservative shadow health minister Earl Howe, Warner suggested the government agree “a more limited set of key principles” to temper much of the opposition to the bill.

Howe proposed that practitioners have regard to the importance of patient participation and the full range of available treatment options and use the least restrictive approach as necessary in applying the law.

But he later withdrew the amendment, after junior health minister Lord Hunt said the government would explore the issue “to see whether any movement could be made”, despite saying ministers had concerns about the potential principles.

The government faces a groundswell of opposition against the bill both within and outside parliament.

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