Memorandum submitted by Bro Tāf Voluntary Sector Mental Health Network[1] (MH 19)

 

This Network has followed with great attention the progress of the current proposed legislation. The Network feels that its member organisations' contact at close quarters with people experiencing mental health difficulties makes it well-placed to make the following observations.

 

 

Principles

 

It is understood that the new elements of legislation contained in the Bill do not carry a set of guiding principles. This is seen as a major omission, which should be re-thought urgently. It is understood that an argument has been advanced that because the Bill is an amendment of existing legislation rather than a new Act, as was introduced in Scotland, that a set of guiding principles is not necessary. However, the Network feels that the radical nature of the changes entailed in the new legislation clearly necessitates the inclusion of such principles to inform how competing imperatives in relation to the mode of compulsory treatment orders issued, and the safeguarding of beneficial relationships with supportive agencies and professionals.

 

Such an underpinning by a set of guiding principles would be of particular importance in balancing the interests of the individual against the resource priorities of agencies, and ensuring consistent application of the new arrangements across all geographic areas.

 

 

Nearest Relative

 

The Network feels strongly that further consideration is needed of the arrangements by which a service user may nominate a person other than their legally-identified "nearest relative" to uphold their interests.

 

The possibility of an individual being able to nominate an alternative person is itself welcomed, as it is by no means uncommon that the closest family member to have been the major player in precipitating a mental health crisis. However, the stipulation that this can only be effected by a decision of a Court prompts major concerns. At a time when someone is particularly vulnerable, it is likely that in the bulk of cases the person will in reality be too daunted to proceed. Furthermore, the fact that the process incurs a cost is held to be unacceptable in principle.

 

An alternative arrangement, analogous in some way with the process for devising advance directives for treatment, is strongly advocated.

 

 

Training

 

In order to be implemented effectively and for the benefit of mental health service users, the changes will need to be supported by rigorous and ongoing training of professionals in all agencies, including the police service. Provision for obligatory training requirements with respect to the workings of the new legislation, should be a major priority.

 

 

 

APPENDIX 1 Members of the Network

 

4 Winds User Led Association

Age Concern

All Wales Saheli Association

Alzheimers Society

Amber Project

Ategi

AWETU

Barnardos Marlborough Road Project

Barnardos Intensive Family Support Service (Rhondda Cynon Taff)

Barnardos Merthyr Partnership

Barry ACE

British Red Cross Society

Bryncynon Healthy Living Centre

Caer Las Cymru

Cardiff Action for Single Homeless

Cardiff Concern

Cardiff Move On

Cardiff and Vale Patients Council

Cardiff People First

Cardiff Womens Aid

Cardiff YMCA Housing Association

Carers National

Church Army

Counselling South Wales

Crossroads in the Vale (EMI) Ltd

Crossroads Rhondda Cynon Taf

Crossroads Merthyr Tydfil

Crossroads Wales

Cruse Bereavement Care

Cynon Valley Young Carers

Depression Alliance Cymru

DRIVE

East Vale Group [MDF}

Eye to Eye Youth Counselling

Foundation Housing /Tai Sylfaen

Friends r Us

Ffynnon Project

Gofal Cymru

Grangetown PREP

Hafal Aberaman

Hafal Cardiff

Hafal Merthyr Tydfil

Hafal Vale of Glamorgan Family Support & Advocacy

Hafod Care Association

Innovate Trust

Jigsaw

Lean On Me, Cardiff & Vale Crossroads

Llamau

Llamau Womens Services

Merthyr and the Valleys Mind

MDF- the Bipolar Organisation Cymru

Mind Cymru

Mind in the Vale

Vanguard Project

New Horizons

Newlink Wales

Pontypridd Women's Aid

Prep Project, UWHA

Quest Employment

Rhondda Cynon Taf Epilepsy Group

Riverside Advice

Riverside Community Development Centre

Sanctuary Counselling & Training

Shoreline Project / Dual Diagnosis Support project Wallich Clifford Community

Sorted Project

South Wales Mental Health Advocacy

Taff Housing Association inc

Taff Tenant Support Services

TEDS

Trothwy Cyf.

Cardiff & Vale Carers Centre

The Samaritans

The Women's Workshop

Vale Centre for Voluntary Services

Vale of Glamorgan CAB

Vale Women's Aid

Voices From Care

Voluntary Action Cardiff

Walkfree

Welsh Refugee Council

 

 

April 2007



[1] For members of the network, please see Appendix 1