Bill news

New Code of Practice

The revised Code of Practice has been published. The correct version is now on the DH website.

Guidance on transfers between places of safety

The Department of Health has published guidance on transfers between places of safety.

Our response to the Code of Practice consultation

Here's our response to the Code of Practice consultation. It's long and detailed (81 pages).

Download our Response (PDF, 423 KB)

CSIP update on the Act

CSIP has published a new update on the Act. You can also sign up to be told when the news is updated.

Draft Code of Practice and Secondary Legislation

Today the Department of Health published its draft Code of Practice for the Mental Health Act. It is for consultation until 24 January 2008. We will produce a response from the Alliance to reflect the views of our members.

The Code of Practice is a vital document: it will determine how professionals and managers interpret the letter of the law in everyday practice. It will have an important legal status and must be approved by Parliament. We would encourage anyone who has experience of living or working with the Mental Health Act to respond to this consultation individually or through any group for which they are a member.

Draft Code of Practice and Secondary Legislation in Wales

The Code of Practice consultation for Wales is open for responses until 28 January 2008. Follow the link for details of how to respond.

Mental Health Act passed

20 July 2007

The Mental Health Act has been passed and given Royal Assent on 19 July. The Alliance will continue to work during the consultation on the Code of Practice.

Mental Health Bill nears completion

3 July 2007

The Mental Health Bill was debated in the House of Lords yesterday evening. The House voted to keep the changes made in the House of Commons but added three new amendments:

The Bill is expected to return to the House of Commons for the final time next week.

Report stage in the Commons

20 June 2007

The Mental Health Bill Report Stage in the House of Commons took place on 18 and 19 June. The Hansard records of the two days are below, followed by our summary of developments.

Download Commons Report Stage Day 1 text (Word, 833 KB)

Download Commons Report Stage Day 2 text (Word, 429 KB)

The outcomes of the Report Stage are summarised below.


The new amendments place a duty on the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers to make arrangements to ensure that independent mental health advocates are available to patients under the Mental Health Act.

The amendment covers all of the patients covered by our amendment except for those brought in or held in hospital under emergency powers but not yet detained (s4, s5(2) or (4), s135, s136).

The amendment covers children who are not detained but considered for ECT, which our amendment didn't cover. As a result of this, a person will never go more than 72 hours without the right to advocacy being activated.

Advocates are asked to perform the following functions - provision of information, understanding rights, help in exercising rights, the advocate needs to be independent and there is a right to see the patient in private. The patient is given information at the point of detention or as soon as practicable thereafter in all cases.

Nearest Relative

No concessions were made by the Government on nearest relative. A patient still cannot choose their nearest relative in advance - but they can apply to the county court (CC) for the displacement of their nearest relative on the grounds that they are unsuitable and seek to have them replaced with someone else.

‘Unsuitability’ covers situations where there is no effective relationship between patient and NR or the relationship has irretrievably broken down.

We will continue to hold consultations about the Code of Practice.

Patients will be advised of their rights around the CC procedure and a user friendly guide produced - but it is unclear if legal aid will be available to fund these applications.

Victim’s Rights

The Bill now extends victims' rights to information about the discharge of mentally disordered offenders and the ability to make representations to the Mental Health Review Tribunal in cases of unrestricted patients.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Safeguards will be extended for patients receiving ECT.

Children - Age appropriate accommodation.

The change to the Bill requires hospital managers to ensure that patients under 18 who are admitted to hospital for assessment or for treatment under the legislation or who are voluntary patients are in an environment that is suitable for their age (subject to their needs).

Young People - Tribunals

Young people aged 16 and 17 will now be able to access tribunals every year, if they do not exercise their right to appeal, rather than every three years.


An amendment has been passed that removes the list of supervised community treatment (SCT) conditions and instead makes explicit the purpose of the SCT conditions - i.e. conditions can be imposed on an order if they are necessary or appropriate to: ensure that the patient receives medical treatment; prevent risk of harm to the patient's health or safety; or protect other persons.


An amendment laid by Chris Bryant MP (Labour) provides that any reference in the Mental Health Act to medical treatment, in relation to mental disorder, shall be construed as a reference to medical treatment the purpose of which is to alleviate, or prevent a worsening of, the disorder or one or more of its symptoms or manifestations.

The Alliance has asked for assurances on the word manifestations.


The introduction of a number of new safeguards in relation to people subject to Mental Capacity Act: deprivation of liberty authorisations, including extending access to independent mental capacity advocates.

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