Peers vote to amend Mental Health Bill

Peers voted yesterday to amend the Mental Health Bill so that people cannot be sectioned unless they have impaired ability to make decisions about their treatment.

In a significant defeat for the government, peers voted by 225 to 119 to back the amendment, which junior health minister Lord Hunt warned would “undermine the broad intent of the bill”.

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson in the Lords, Baroness Barker, who tabled the amendment, said people requiring other forms of medical treatment would had the right to refuse it.

Mental health legislation currently requires individuals to have a serious mental disorder and be a danger to themselves or others before they can be sectioned. Backing the amendment, crossbench peer Baroness Murphy said in practice the amendment would not change who was detained as most, if not all, who had such a serious disorder would have significantly impaired decision-making about their care.

But she argued that it would give people “some small confidence that they would be treated on the same lines and receive the same sort of benefits as people going into hospital with any other illness”.

Amendments to retain the requirement for individuals to be considered treatable before they can be detained and to provide a right to mental health treatment were withdrawn.

The bill will be discussed again in the Lords on Monday.

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