Embracing Neverland

Mental health……………………………………………………………………………..the journey is our own

MH Bill

Changing minds. Coming new to campaigning after 20 years as a career civil servant does not stop the new chief executive of the charity Rethink spelling out exactly where the government is going wrong on mental health. As with many in the mental health sector, he is convinced that some measures – including detaining people who are not proven to be a danger to themselves or others, and CTOs, which are designed to force discharged patients to take medication – will not enhance public safety, which was a key argument put forward by ministers for their inclusion in the bill.

Mental health law

Background and latest developments on the draft Mental Health Bill.

About the Bill

History of the Bill

Latest developments on amending the Mental Health Act 1983

Additional links

Home Office (opens new window)

Department for Constitutional Affairs (opens new window)

National Institute for Mental Health in England (opens new window)

National Assembly for Wales (opens new window)

Mental Health Bill will do nothing for public safety, research shows By Jeremy Laurance, Health EditorPublished: 08 March 2007

The biggest reform of mental health legislation in 50 years will be thrown into disarray today by research showing a key aspect of the proposals is unlikely to work. Government measures to force patients discharged from psychiatric hospitals to continue taking their drugs, do not improve the safety of patients or the public, according to an international review of research.

The controversial measures, supervised community treatment orders (CTOs), have been tried in six countries to deal with “revolving door” patients – those who do well in hospital but stop taking their drugs on discharge, relapse and have to be readmitted.

The review of 72 studies by the Institute of Psychiatry, commissioned by the Department of Health, says: “There is no robust evidence about the effects of CTOs on key outcomes, such as hospital readmission, length of stay, medication compliance, or the patients’ quality of life.” The review, seen by The Independent, is to be published today. Community treatment orders are one of two key elements in the Mental Health Bill which has been savaged during its progress through the House of Lords and is due to go to the Commons after Easter.

The Bill is designed to introduce tough controls on people suffering mental illness in the wake of the case of Michael Stone, a drug addict suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, who murdered Lin Russell and her daughter Megan, six, and severely injured Megan’s sister, Josie, then nine, on a country lane in Kent in 1996. The Lords amended the Bill to restrict CTOs to the most severely affected patients, a move criticised by the Health minister Rosie Winterton, who said it “seriously weakened” the measure.

The Tories accused the Government of suppressing the review until the Bill had completed its passage through the Lords. A draft went to the Department of Health in August. Tim Loughton, a shadow health minister, said: “I simply don’t understand why, in the face of this evidence, Labour are still insisting on bringing in wide-ranging CTOs. Labour are guilty of disgraceful manipulation in regard to the timing of the publication of this report. It is appalling that it is only being published today.” Rachel Churchill, chief author of the review, said CTOs had been used for as long as 30 years in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and Israel but there is still no clear evidence that they work. “How the information is used [by government] is beyond my control,” she said.

The Mental Health Alliance, representing 78 organisations, said the powers proposed in the Bill were the widest anywhere in the world. “The Government needs to put clear limits on who can be given a community treatment order. Only those people who would benefit should have their freedom restricted in this way and that’s a very small group of people,” Rowena Daw, vice-chair of the Alliance said.

Professor Louis Appleby, the Government’s national director for mental health, admitted that the Institute of Psychiatry review had “not reliably demonstrated the effectiveness” of CTOs.

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