General Social Care Council set to accredit new mental health role

Talks are under way between the Department of Health and the
General Social Care Council about the accreditation of the new role
of approved mental health practitioner.

Head of mental health legislation at the Department of Health
Adrian Sieff said he was aware of the concerns around scrapping the
post of approved social worker and replacing it with approved
mental health practitioners (AMHPs).

He told delegates at a mental health conference organised by
Harrogate Management Centre in London last week that despite some
AMHPs coming from health backgrounds, they would be expected to
offer a social perspective within the tribunal process.

Under the draft Mental Health Bill, nurses and occupational
therapists are among the groups of workers who can take up the job,
which has led to fears that medical professionals will dominate the

Sieff said the job had been carried out in the past on
“professional demarcation rather than competency demarcation lines”
but involving the GSCC in accrediting the new role was designed to
ensure it continued to have a social perspective.

Carer Vicky Yeates slammed the bill for its “unwelcome diminution
of the rights of carers”.

She said that progress on legislation on the rights of the nearest
relative role had been “significantly eroded” by the bill.

The nearest relative role is replaced by a nominated person and a
carer. Under current law, the closest relative can challenge
detention and order the discharge of a patient.

But under clause 12 of the draft bill the AMHP will not have to
consult carers.

Yeates said this would cause problems between AMHPs and carers.

“Emotions can run high at times and good mental health
practitioners will understand that,” she said. “But there are some
professionals out there who will not consult carers.”

Yeates said it was “truly, truly scary” that the rights of the
nominated person would be less than those of the nearest relative.

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