Further Memorandum submitted by the Royal College of Nursing (MH 54)


Following on from the memorandum that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) sent to Committee members on Monday and following the Committee meeting on Tuesday and this morning I wanted to ensure that Committee Members are clear on some areas of the memorandum.   We also felt it would be helpful for Committee members to be aware of the RCN's view on the clause relating to "impaired decision making". 


Compulsory Treatment

Whilst our original memo did state that our members remain unconvinced that multiple admissions should be the trigger for compulsory treatment we want to be clear that the RCN is not supportive of the Lords amendment that requires at least 2 in-patient admission prior to commencement of compulsory treatment.  As our original memorandum explained there are a number or contemporary nursing innovations such as medication management and working with clients to identify early relapse triggers which can prevent the suffering and trauma of further compulsory admission or relapse.


Criteria for Compulsion

The RCN is clear that any treatment must be of therapeutic benefit to the individual or prevent deterioration of his/her condition.


Impaired Decision Making

Nurses are bound by a code of conduct and professional ethics to do all they can to prevent harm.  We could not support any legislation that could impede our members in their primary aim of preventing foreseeable harm.  We do appreciate the Government's concern that the amendment relating to the absence of "impaired judgement" could enable service users to take decisions that may have tragic and regrettable consequences for their families and themselves.  It is imperative that our members work within a clear and unambiguous legislative framework which will enable them to provide appropriate care and treatment in situations of obvious moral, legal and ethical complexity.


April 2007