ALLIANCES RESPOND TO GOVERNMENT DECISION ON BOURNEWOOD AMENDMENTS TO CAPACITY ACT

29 June 2006

The Mental Health Alliance and Making Decisions Alliance today welcomed the Government’s plans to introduce safeguards for people who lack capacity and need to be detained and cared for in a hospital or residential care home , but warned that they did not go far enough.

Richard Kramer, Chair of the Making Decisions Alliance said:

"The Mental Health Alliance and the Making Decisions Alliance welcome the fact that the Government has moved to provide safeguards to address the Bournewood gap.

"But we are disappointed that the proposals published today fail to adequately address this indefensible gap in mental health law."

The Making Decisions Alliance was established to ensure that people lacking mental capacity are able to access care and treatment and enjoy full protection from abuse.

Richard Kramer continued: "These proposals lack the robust safeguards needed to protect the rights of people who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves.

"The safeguards should be the same as those people are entitled to under the Mental Health Act. The law needs to be fair, so that whether you are detained under the Mental Health Act or the Mental Capacity Act, you are provided with equal and effective safeguards".

Mental Health Alliance chair and Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: "We are pleased that the Government is finally to provide safeguards for this vulnerable group of people . But as currently drafted the plans will fail to offer them effective and robust protection."

The Mental Health Alliance was established to ensure that a planned new Mental Health Act is fit for the 21st century.

Paul Farmer added: "The Court of Protection lacks the expertise and the resources to be able to deal with appeals from detained people in care homes or hospitals. Mental Health Review Tribunals, not the Court of Protection, should make decisions about their mental health care. Detention should be limited to six months at a time, not 12. And the Government should commit itself to providing free aftercare to those treated as ‘Bournewood’ patients.

"People detained for mental health treatment, under whatever legislation, should expect equality of treatment. Today’s announcement does not represent the full equality we hope to see when the Mental Health Amendment Bill enters Parliament."

The Mental Health Alliance and the Making Decisions Alliance are calling for the following key safeguards to be included in the new provisions:

Notes to Editors