Campaigners have warned against the possible misuse of new powers of compulsory treatment for people with mental health problems, which come into force today.
Simon Lawton-Smith, head of policy at the Mental Health Foundation, said community treatment orders (CTOs) should not become a substitute for services.
He said: “There is no conclusive research to suggest that CTOs help people with mental health problems to stay well any more than good local services. It will be important to keep a very close eye on how these new powers are being used – they must not become the easy option or replace good mental health services that people want to use.”
Mind also raised concerns over delays to a scheme giving patients access to advocacy, which is not due to be rolled out until April next year.
Mind’s chief executive Paul Farmer said: “Mind has long had serious concerns that CTOs will not only fail to benefit patients, but risk casting the net too widely and subjecting people to compulsory powers when it is neither necessary nor appropriate. In light of this, it is vital that people have access to an advocacy service that will stand up for their rights and safeguard them against the misuse of potentially oppressive powers.”
The news came as an NHS Information Centre report that revealed that one in 50 people in England are in contact with specialist NHS mental health services. Of this number, one in 10 spent time as an in-patient in mental health services, with one in four in-patients detained under the Mental Health Act.