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Mental Health Act 1983 and Mental Capacity Act 2005

Comment 1st July 2010

The previous governement missed a trick in amending the Mental Health Act 1983 and introducing the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Even though they are relatively new, both sets of legislation need review and ideally they would be amalgamated into a single more simplified piece of legislation with the law regarding treatment and detention of children (for health purposes) also included.

Why does this matter?

The law on detention and treatment of both adults and children is unecessarily complex making it difficult for practitioners and virtually impossible for those who are directly affected to understand it.

The Mental Health Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are staggeringly complicated now and this is partly because at the time of drafting and implementation, certain scenarios could not really be foreseen, but a few minor tweaks would have a huge impact on freeing up the valuable and precious time of health and social care staff without affecting civil liberties in a negative way; most likely in a positive way. Similarly a more simplified approach would mean less time taken up responding to legal challenges with a subsequent easing of the time spent in courts and the associated costs to the public purse.

For a small example of the issues that arise see for instance this mental health law discussion group: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/imhap2/

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