Conservatives warn government not to let murders influence draft bill

The Conservatives are warning the government against allowing a
handful of high-profile murders by people with mental health
problems to influence its handling of the draft Mental Health

Shadow health minister Tim Loughton, a member of the parliamentary
joint committee set up to scrutinise the bill, said he hoped the
government would not use media attention generated by recent cases
to “resist revising the bill”.

The committee was due to publish its report this week.

In recent weeks a spate of killings by people with mental health
problems have hit the headlines, including that of Peter Bryan who
was detained indefinitely after murdering a friend and eating parts
of his body.

Loughton said the government would “do well to heed” the
committee’s findings, adding that cases such as 31-stone Chris
Leppard, who was sectioned because he suffered from Prada Willi
syndrome which meant he could not stop eating, could become more

“It could be a case of ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’,” he said,
adding that Leppard’s detention was “clearly a misuse of the Mental
Health Act”.

Loughton went on to say that if the Conservatives won May’s general
election they would prioritise mental health services.

“It is a scandal that mental health services are at the bottom of
the funding pile,” he said.

Speaking earlier, health minister Rosie Winterton defended plans to
abolish patient forums within mental health trusts and merge them
into ones for primary care trusts.

“We are absolutely not intending any diminution of the scrutiny of
mental health services. Many people have said to us that they felt
isolated in independent trusts.”

She added: “We are not reducing the number of people who can be
involved in forums but are bringing them together in PCTs.”

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