This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Parliament passes Mental Health Bill
The first major overhaul of mental health law for 40 years happened today with the passing of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Bill.
Provisions under the Bill, introduced to Parliament by the Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm last year, aim to give better protection and rights to people with mental disorders.
- establish a new Mental Health Tribunal which will combine professional, legal and practical experience in deciding what is best for patients;
- give new provisions to ensure that advocacy is available to all persons with mental disorder;
- strengthen the Mental Welfare Commission to ensure that people with mental illness and learning disabilities are properly protected;
- provide a new compulsory treatment order, which will allow care and treatment to be tailored to the personal needs of each patient, whether in hospital or in the community;
- place duties on local authorities to promote the wellbeing and social development of all persons in their area who have, or have had, a mental disorder;
- place additional safeguards in the use of certain medical treatments;
- establish mechanisms for the nomination of a 'named person' with significant rights to represent the patient's interests
The Minister said:
"This is an auspicious moment for the Parliament and for everyone with an interest in mental health in Scotland. It is the culmination of an inclusive and extensive process, giving us a landmark Bill - by far the largest Bill to have been considered by the Parliament - which provides a comprehensive framework for addressing the needs of a vulnerable, deserving but for many years often neglected group of patients.
"We have a Bill, which places patients and their welfare at its heart. This is underlined by a coherent set of principles to which anyone discharging functions under the Act must have regard
"I am grateful to all who have contributed to the preparation of and proceedings on the Bill: the Mental Health Legislation Reference Group, the Mental Welfare Commission and the Law Society of Scotland have been particularly helpful in bringing a keen and experienced eye to the Bill while the voluntary organisations, including SAMH and NSF Scotland, have by their tenacity and persistence have helped to ensure that the patient's perspective was always clearly recognised."
The Deputy Minister for Health Mary Mulligan added:
"I would like to join in the tributes which have been made to all who have contributed to the development and preparation of this Bill - the voluntary organisations, healthcare professionals, social work interests and many others, as well as, of course the Health and Community Care Committee for its balanced and constructive input.
"In consequence, we have a Bill which is fit for purpose and with a flexibility which will enable a ready response to new developments in care and treatment. The Scottish Parliament has made this Bill possible. Taken with the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 we now have a corpus of legislation, which is the equal, if not better, than anything, anywhere in the world today. It is a shining example of our determination and capability to improve the welfare and wellbeing of the ill and disadvantaged in our society."
Ian Miller, Chairman of the Mental Welfare Commission, also welcomed the passing of the Bill and commented:
"The new legislation will strengthen the rights of users of services to receive appropriate care and treatment, based on the principle of least restrictive intervention. This means that compulsory measures set out in the Act will be applied selectively only to the degree that is necessary. This is an important updating of existing legislation, with care and treatment being tailored more to the individual rather than "one size fits all". Furthermore, we welcome the provisions which continue and strengthen the protective role of the Mental Welfare Commission in supporting the welfare and rights of people with mental disorder in Scotland."
Key amendments to the Bill at Stages 2 and 3 include:
- a new appeal right against excessive security which will help ensure that 'entrapped' patients can move on timeously to a setting suitable to their needs;
- stronger safeguards on ECT which make clear that a patient who is able to make a choice can not be treated without consent and, tighten up the procedure for patients who are too unwell to make a decision;
- giving every person with a mental disorder a right of access to independent advocacy to strengthen the Bill's provisions to secure the availability of advocacy to all persons who have a mental disorder and to ensure that persons have the opportunity of making use of such services.
In implementing the Act, the Scottish Executive will work with interested parties in Scotland to achieve the benefits for users and carers which the Act makes possible.
The Tribunal will be established and guidance and a Code of Practice on the Act will be developed to aid professionals to deliver quality care. Arrangements for monitoring and evaluation will also be put in place. The Mental Health Legislation Reference Group will continue to offer its expertise during the implementation process. It is intended that by the end of this year the President of the Tribunal will have been appointed to oversee the latter stages of preparatory work and the location of the President's Office will have been determined.
The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Bill can be accessed in full, as can the Explanatory Notes, Policy Memorandum, Amendments and Health and Community Care Committee considerations of the Bill, on the Scottish Parliament's website: www.scottish.parliament.uk
The Mental Health Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 16 September 2002.
The Financial Memorandum accompanying the Bill sets out that the additional costs associated with the new Bill amount to an estimated £23.1 million per year, with one-off start-up costs of a further £9.25 million to be met before the end of 2007-08. The Executive is committing £17.1 million a year to implement the Bill, alongside anticipated additional NHS expenditure of £6 million a year. In 2001/02, the NHS spent an estimated £557 million on mental health services in Scotland, up 7% from 2000/1, and local authorities spent £47 million.
The work of the Scottish Executive on mental health promotion, led by the National Advisory Group which the Health Minister leads continues. The National Programme to Improve Mental Health and Well-Being in Scotland includes a comprehensive initiative to reduce the rate of suicide in Scotland; the anti-stigma campaign see me; and the Breathing Space phoneline set up to help those experiencing low mood and depression.