Joint Committee Report on Draft Mental Health Bill published

The Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill has today published its report on the Draft Mental Health Bill.

Key findings are:

the Bill should proceed – but only with significant amendments

there’s too much focus placed on protecting the public from a small minority of people with a mental illness

the powers granted in the current Draft could potentially be used as the equivalent of a mental health ASBO – enforcing treatment on people who might only be a ‘nuisance’

compulsory treatment should be used only where there is no other alternative and where it has therapeutic benefit

people who can’t benefit from treatment should be dealt with by separate legislation (for example people with an untreatable “personality disorder”)
treatment in the community should be more restricted than under current proposals

there should be reciprocal rights to treatment including the right to assessment

the law should play a part in improving services and combating stigma

fundamental principles should be set out at the start of the Bill.

Wales-specific findings are:

mental health services in Wales are significantly less developed than in England

areas of Wales which are sparsely populated will “complicate the implementation” of an Act as will the necessity for a bilingual service

mental health services in Wales must be at least as good as now in England before the provisions of the Draft can be implemented – and resources should be made available to achieve this

mental health services should be available in Welsh and English.

Bill Walden-Jones, Chief-Executive of Welsh mental health charity Hafal welcomed the report, stating: “It clearly demonstrates that in its present form the Bill is inadequate and unworkable. The best solution would be to scrap this Draft Bill and develop legislation as a contract between patients and the Government. The key is to balance limited compulsory powers with patients’ legal rights to treatment.”

The full Parliamentary report is available from the Joint Committee website from 4 p.m., Wednesday 23rd March:

For a background to the Draft Mental Health Bill, go to:

Further in-depth analysis of the Joint Committee Report will be available soon – keep checking for updates.