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Government to reform Mental Health Act

Monday 17th December 2018
The government has revealed the areas of mental health legislation it plans to reform.
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The government has revealed plans to introduce a new mental health bill to improve the standard of care, following the publication of the final report on the independent review of the 1983 Mental Health Act.

It will bring in new legislation to modernise the Mental Health Act in two areas. The first of these will enable anyone detained under the Act to nominate a person of their own choice to be involved in making decisions about how they are cared for. This would replace the current system in which a relative may be chosen by the state who might not have a close link with the person detained. 

The second change will see patients being allowed to express preferences for how they are treated, with the options being listed in statutory 'advance choice' documents.

A formal response to the review will be published by the government in the new year before legislation is drawn up. 

Prime minister Theresa May said: "The disparity in our mental health services is one of the burning injustices this country faces that we must put right.

"For decades, it has somehow been accepted that if you have a mental illness, you will not receive the same access to treatment as if you have a physical ailment. Well, that is not acceptable."

Health secretary Matt Hancock said that with around one in four people suffering mental health issues at some point in their life, it is "more important than ever" to treat mental and physical health as being of equal importance. 

The new legislation will ensure mental health services are "fit for the modern age", he added. 

NHS England’s national director for mental health Claire Murdoch also welcomed the report and drew attention to the fact that it does not just seek to enhance the services available to people while they are in the community, but seeks to ensure the best treatment for those who are hospitalised. 

Written by Angela Newbury

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