The implications of mental health law reform for service development and workforce planning
The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice
Article publication date: 1 May 2006
The UK Government has been planning changes to mental health legislation for at least eight years. On 23 March 2006, the Department of Health announced that many of these plans would proceed ‐ although through amendments to the 1983 Mental Health Act rather than a substantive Bill. These proposed reforms are significant but controversial. This paper sets out some of the reasons for welcoming the proposed changes. It is argued that the proposals to replace the responsible medical officer with a clinical supervisor are in keeping with best quality mental health care, and allow for proper multidisciplinary practice. Such an approach explicitly permits proper use of the skills and competencies of the workforce ‐ including psychologists. A second controversial aspect of the proposed reforms ‐ supervised community treatment orders, permitting compulsory care outside of hospitals ‐ represent not a violation of human rights, but a specific defence of ‘Article 8’ rights to protection of family and personal life. Finally, it is argued that the proposed amendments are important because mental health legislation dominates mental health care and the present 1983 Mental Health Act inappropriately consolidates the status of the medical model and the role of the responsible medical officer (and hence psychiatry). It is argued that the proposed changes are imperfect; in particular they lack inclusion of an ‘impaired judgement’ criterion, but it is suggested that necessary role and service redesign needs such amendments to allow the new ways of working programme to ‘bite’.
Kinderman, P. (2006), "The implications of mental health law reform for service development and workforce planning", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 22-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/17556228200600004
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