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Mental Health Act and Mental Capacity Act feature in government drive to cut “red tape”

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Regulations covering parts of the Mental Health Act and Mental Capacity Act are among a swathe of health and social care “red tape” the government is seeking advice on whether to scrap, reform or keep.

In a move some mental health workers warned could freeze out people without internet access, the Cabinet Office is inviting online comments on a series of health and social care regulations as part of its ongoing ‘challenge’ to cut red tape. Comments can be submitted here until December 11th.

The lengthy list of items up for debate (which can be accessed in full here) includes regulations to ensure that mental health advocates undertaking roles under the Mental Health Act “are of an adequate standard”.

It also includes provisions allowing the Care Quality Commission to monitor “people who are being deprived of their liberty”.

The red tape challenge website says that “regulation plays a vital role” in helping workers provide the “best possible care.”

However, it adds: “We also know that regulations can prevent clinical staff from spending time on what matters – unnecessary paperwork can divert the time and attention of staff from their main task of delivering care to those who need it.”

At time of writing 14 comments had been left on the mental health proposals. Some criticised the government’s online consultation as “undemocratic” and said it was not accessible to all people affected by changes.

One mental health worker wrote: “As a professional mental health worker for over 30 years I am appalled to think that anyone would consider reforms to important legislation based upon an obscure web site discussion.”

“Those who are likely to be most affected by any changes- people who access mental health and/or learning disability services have not been told of this site and the opportunity to respond,” he added.

“This in itself is an example of why advocacy is so important. Changes that will impact upon those who are often socially excluded should not be in the hands of an elite group.”

A response from the red tape challenge site said: “We are still working through a communication programme to get the message out about this theme.”

Another commenter said: “The Winterbourne View case should make it clear why regulation of care is essential. The CQC needs to do more not less to ensure standards of care, as do local authorities and others commissioning care.”

Image: David Hartley/Rex features 

About Andy McNicoll

Andy is community editor at Community Care, with a focus on reporting on mental health. He has previously worked for titles focusing on the NHS and substance misuse sectors. You can contact him at andy.mcnicoll@rbi.co.uk