Scottish plans will boost medical role

Plans published by the Scottish executive last week to radically
change mental health legislation will enhance the role of social
work qualified mental health officers in Scotland, in contrast to
plans in England and Wales.

Renewing Mental Health Law, which is likely to be law in
Scotland by early next year, will give key roles to social work
qualified mental health officers in compulsory treatment in the
community, in mental health tribunals and in advocacy services, as
well as maintaining their current roles.

The plans contrast starkly with the mental health white paper
published in December 2000 for England and Wales, under which
sectioning orders will be made by two doctors and “another suitably
trained mental health professional”, who may not be a social

Ruth Stark, Scottish policy officer for the British Association
of Social Workers, said the proposals for Scotland would give
mental health officers and social work generally a central role in
what used to be seen as primarily medical tasks.

“The Scottish executive is demonstrating that social work skills
are valued – a factor not evident in the UK government,” she

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