Mental health policy develops quickly but patients still denied basic rights

Mental health policy has developed faster and more dynamically
over the last two years than during any other period, but detained
patients are still being denied basic rights, the Mental Health Act
Commission says in its biennial report, writes Katie

Margaret Clayton, chairperson of the commission, said the
findings demonstrate the need for the government’s plans to
reform the Mental Health Act, but added that the “real crunch” will
come when the legislative detail is revealed.

“Drafting and implementation of the legislation will require a
high degree of consultation with all concerned and careful phasing
if the gaps between intention and achievement which we have
identified are to be filled,” she said.

Many detained patients are still denied basic rights such as
fresh air, the report says.

It recommends that social services should develop standard forms
for ASWs to complete when admitting a patient to hospital under the
Mental Health Act, to ensure that all the relevant information is
left with the hospital.

It also suggests that standard formats should be developed for
ASW’s reports, which include details of how the nearest
relative was identified and consulted. This will help to ensure
that the admission documents are legally valid.

The commission also recommends that all the relevant agencies,
including social services, take particular note of discharge
planning requirements for patients subject to Section 117 of the

The findings are based on interviews with nearly 20,000 detained
patients between 1999 and 2001.

The Mental Health Act Commission Ninth Biennial Report 1999-2001
is available from the stationery office on 0870 600 5522.




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