The coalition campaigning against key elements of the Mental Health Bill has split, with five major organisations suspending their membership to form a new coalition.
Unison, the Royal College of Nursing, the Mental Health Nurses Association, the British Psychological Society and the College of Occupational Therapists have been unable to agree with the rest of the now 75-member alliance over which professionals should have the authority to extend compulsory treatment.
The five bodies, which claim to represent 85% of NHS mental health staff and have been part of the alliance since its inception, want their members to have the authority to extend treatment, but the alliance has taken no policy position on the issue.
A statement from the five organisations says MPs have not been given “clear and unambiguous messages from all stakeholders” during the bill’s committee stage.
The five published a briefing in April suggesting an amendment made to the bill by peers, which would mean only doctors could make decisions on detention, would reintroduce “outmoded hierarchies” into mental health services.
The amendment was later overturned in the Commons.
Professor Peter Kinderman, of the British Psychological Society, said: “The best quality mental health care is provided by multi-disciplinary teams working together to provide the care people want and need. Today a wide range of experts from a range of professional backgrounds – nurses, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists, as well as psychiatrists – plan care and lead clinical teams. The law should reflect this important clinical reality.”
Alliance chair Andy Bell said: “The five organisations have made a number of important contributions to the campaign for a better bill over the past eight years. It is reasonable that in view of the lack of agreement among alliance stakeholders on professional roles, that they felt the need to concentrate on this issue which is of great importance to them.”
“The alliance continues its campaign to speak up for the people most affected by this legislation: the people who use mental health services and their families.”
The bill is expected to enter its report stage in the House of Commons later this month.