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04 Jul 2022

Draft Mental Health Bill is a major step forward

The Government has published a draft Mental Health Bill to amend and modernise the Mental Health Act. The bill seeks to take forward recommendations made by the Independent Review of the act led by Professor Sir Simon Wessely. These were subsequently taken forward in the government’s white paper Reforming the Mental Health Act published in 2021.

Commenting on the publication of the draft bill, Marjorie Wallace CBE, Founder and Chief Executive of SANE, said: “Publication of this draft bill is a major step forward in bringing about new legislation which can improve the experiences of people detained under the Mental Health Act.

“SANE has welcomed the proposals for reform to allow patients a stronger say in their treatment and greater involvement of families. But reform must be matched by investment in inpatient beds, community services and the mental health workforce, so that people whose mental health is deteriorating can be helped before they reach crisis point and the Mental Health Act has to be used.

“A reformed Mental Health Act should contribute to people having a safe place to go in crisis, with beds available locally so that people are not sent home when they are still at risk or have to be treated out of their area. SANE’s experience, drawn from the thousands of individuals and families who contact us, as well as conversations with clinicians and experts, is that far too many people in crisis are being turned away because no local beds are available, or deprived of their liberty under the act as the only way to receive treatment.”

The draft bill is now subject to pre-legislative scrutiny whereby a parliamentary select committee will examine it in detail before the government publishes a final version.

It can be read in on the website.

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