Joint Committee On Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

2.  Further memorandum from the Mental Health Act Commission

  Thank you for your earlier interest in our views on the Human Rights' aspects of the Bill. I now enclose a copy of our Response,[12] and will be grateful if you will draw it to the attention of Committee members. We share many of the concerns widely expressed elsewhere and intend our response as a constructive contribution to continuing discussion about new mental health legislation. In our covering letter to the Department of Health we made the following three main points:

  (i)  We see advantages in a holistic approach to the inspection and monitoring of healthcare services which includes all aspects of mental health, provided there is a separate and independent role of overseeing the strategic planning and implementation of the functions relating to patients under compulsion.

  (ii)  We have deep concerns about the resource implications of the draft Bill. This is both about finances and about diverting skilled professionals from the treatment of patients to semi-judicial and monitoring functions. We believe that this diversion risks creating greater dangers to both public and patient safety than those it seeks to avoid.

  (iii)  We look forward to drawing on our cumulative multi-disciplinary knowledge and experience in the further development of the legislative proposals and plans for their implementation, and are glad to have received assurances that we shall be fully involved in such developments.

  We also highlight how essential it is that the functions of the Commission continue to be fulfilled until the new arrangements are fully operational.

  I hope that you and the Committee find our Response interesting and informative.

25 September 2002


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