Mental Health Alliance welcomes important new changes to Mental Health Bill

26 February 2007

The House of Lords has this evening made more important changes to the Mental Health Bill, the Mental Health Alliance said today.

Responding to a key vote about community treatment orders (CTOs), the 78-member Alliance said: "Increasing the use of compulsory powers outside hospital is a major part of the Bill. Today’s vote places important limits on the use of the proposed community treatment orders."

"The amendment ensures that only people who would otherwise be in and out of hospital can be placed on a CTO. It requires that a person has a history of being admitted to hospital and deteriorating quickly afterwards before they are put on a CTO.

"Many patients and their families have expressed concern about the scope of the new CTOs in the government’s Bill. They fear they will spend many years under constant threat of being taken back to hospital by force if they do not meet conditions against which they cannot appeal.

"Today’s amendment places CTOs in England and Wales on a similar footing to those in operation in Scotland and in parts of Australia and the United States. It ensures there are sufficient powers to help those for whom a CTO is the right choice, and prevents them being used where they are not the best option."

The House of Lords also voted today by 201 votes to 126 to amend the Bill to ensure children detained under the Act are placed in age-appropriate accommodation, not simply admitted to ordinary adult wards.

"We call upon the Government to accept the changes the House of Lords has made today. They provide a constructive and proportionate way forward for a twenty-first century mental health act that offers the right level of protection for all of us."

Notes

The House of Lords today voted, by a margin of 173 to 140, to ensure only CTOs only apply to genuine ‘revolving door’ patients: that is people who have already been in hospital previously and deteriorated quickly when they returned home.

A second vote, by a margin of 136 to 133, rejected an amendment to give people the right to appeal against the conditions to which they are subject.