Humane Mental Health Bill within reach, says Alliance of 75 groups

18 June 2007

The House of Commons has the chance to make major improvements to the Mental Health Bill today, the Mental Health Alliance has said.

The 75-member coalition working for a humane and effective Mental Health Act welcomes some of the changes the Government will put forward today but believes more is needed to create a progressive Bill fit for the 21st century.

Alliance chair Andy Bell said: "The Bill will increase the use of compulsion in the community in the mental health system. The new community treatment orders (CTOs) are the broadest we have seen in the English speaking world - including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand."

"MPs can vote today to ensure people subject to a CTO can appeal against the restrictions they must live under. They can vote to give people the right to say (when they are well) how they would like to be treated when they are ill and to choose which family member will be there to support them if they are detained.

"Our members strongly welcome the Government’s changes to the Bill to ensure people have a right to an advocate when they are detained and to prevent children being placed on an adult ward inappropriately. We hope today will see further progress to a Bill that both upholds people’s rights and protects both patients and the public."

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: "Last week's amendments were very welcome. Giving people a right to an assessment of their mental health needs would be an excellent further step forward, and bring us up to the high standard set by Scottish mental health legislation. People are still routinely knocked back by overstretched mental health services when they first seek help."