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New Mental Health Bill - No Purchase Necessary
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New Mental Health Bill
The current government has had three attempts to introduce a new Mental Health Act over the last nine years. Each of them has been opposed strongly. The current one is opposed not only by virtually all the independent peers, and by the opposition parties, but also by eighty mental health organisations including Mind, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, SANE, the King's Fund, Turning Point, UNISON - virtually every voluntary and professional body working in the field, as far as I - someone with no professional involvement with mental health - can see.

The core issue seems to be that of treatment without consent. The government's position seems to be entirely a result of fear of the tabloids' lurid coverage of the odd murder committed by mentally disturbed people.  The reality is that mentally ill people are really very unlikely to commit murder, and if they do so, they are likely to murder a member of their own family (as members of the general public are) or to murder a mental health professional.

The interesting thing about this legislation is that the Scottish equivalent bill has been enacted and appears to have none of the faults of the proposed England and Wales bill. I strongly urge you to inform yourself by reading the analysis on the Mental Health Alliance Website.

I was very interested to hear that Northern Italy has probably the best provision for the treatment of mentally ill patients in the EU and that the treatment of such patients in the USA is actually much better than you might imagine. Mental Health Trusts in the UK are run well, without much press coverage, but, perhaps inevitably, because they avoid deficits, money is increasingly being taken away from them to plug holes in the financing of PCTs, or whatever they are called these days. The NHS is a seriously broken institution, and it is a great pity that its status as something akin to a national religion in the UK inhibits any government from anything approaching the sort of radical reform that would be needed to give us anything resembling world-class physical and mental health treatment.
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