Amendment on practitioners fails

The British Association of Social Workers has said it is “disappointed” that the government has rejected its amendment to the Mental Health Bill to give councils responsibility for approved mental health practitioners.

In a Lords debate this week, government whip Baroness Royall of Blaisdon said it did not want “one rigid structure” but the flexibility to allow “arrangements to fit in with local practice”.

BASW is concerned that AMHPs, who will replace approved social workers, could be employed by mental health trusts, losing their independence and ability to challenge medical professionals.

Under current legislation ASWs can only be employed by local authorities.The code of practice for the bill says training and approval of AMHPs will be the responsibility of local authorities but they can be employed in a range of settings, including health trusts.

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Barker, who tabled the amendment, said: “It could be simple to write into legislation that they could not come from the organisation that provides compulsory care.

“Last week peers voted to amend the 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”.

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.

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  Simeon Brody

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