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14 Feb 2023

SANE responds to Joint Committee’s Draft Mental Health Bill report

SANE welcomes the report by the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill and its recognition that proper resourcing of the reforms will be crucial.

The Committee’s report follows extensive hearings to scrutinise the draft legislation.

The committee examined the extent to which the draft Bill would ensure fewer people are detained against their wishes, promote patient choice, address racial inequalities and end the inappropriate long-term detention of people with learning disabilities and autistic people under the Mental Health Act.

SANE believes that the Act needs to be updated to ensure safe, compassionate care in inpatient and other settings, using the least restrictive methods possible.

Patients must be treated with respect, have their dignity preserved, and have needs and wishes taken into account in decisions about their treatment and care.

Racial inequalities

Families and carers should be involved at all points in considerations about care. The inequalities that exist  across mental health services and in the operation of the Mental Health Act for people from black and minority ethnic communities must be addressed.

We welcome in particular the Committee’s proposals that:

  • a new Mental Health Act Commissioner role be established to monitor implementation of the legislation and act as an advocate for patients, families and carers
  • all health organisations be required to appoint a responsible person to collect and publish data on and oversee policies to address racial and ethnic inequalities
  • all patients detained under the Mental Health Act be given a statutory right to request an advance choice document setting out their preferences for future care and treatment


We believe that reform of legislation, policy and practice must be matched by the provision of adequate numbers of inpatient and community facilities, as well as sufficient trained and skilled medical, nursing and other staff in the mental health workforce.

As the Committee recognises, without major investment in treatment facilities and in the mental health workforce, it will not be possible to realise the ambition to offer individual choice and control for patients, let alone safe and compassionate care for all those detained under the Mental Health Act. We therefore support the recommendation that the Government publish an implementation and workforce plan to accompany the final Bill.

The draft Mental Health Act Reform Bill was published in June 2022. It amends the Mental Health Act 1983, the main legislation regulating the compulsory detention or treatment of a person with a mental disorder in England and Wales. The draft Bill follows the 2018 Independent Review of the Mental Health Act.

Further reading

Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill – Summary – Committees – UK Parliament – Summary and full report

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