Mental health detention – Government action
UK Government actions
- In July 2020, the UK Government announced £62 million funding to local councils to accelerate discharges of patients with learning disabilities and/or autism from mental health hospitals into communities.
- In June 2020, as a follow-up to earlier commitments, the UK Government set up an independent panel, which will make recommendations to transform the care and treatment of people with a learning disability or autism and prevent unnecessary admissions and the use of restrictive practices in future.
- In May 2020, NHS England and the Department for Health and Social Care issued legal guidance allowing for temporary departures from the Mental Health Act (MHA) Code of Practice during an undefined ‘pandemic period’.
- In March 2020, the UK Government passed the Coronavirus Act (2020), which introduced several provisions that (if triggered) would substantially relax crucial safeguards on detention under the MHA in England and Wales.
- In March 2020, the Care Quality Commission delayed the publication of the final report on its UK Government-commissioned review into the use of restraint, seclusion and segregation for autistic people, people with a learning disability and people with mental health conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic – an interim report published in May 2019 found that the system of care was not fit for purpose.
- In May 2019, the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act introduced a new model for authorising deprivations of liberty to better protect the rights of people who lack capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment in England and Wales.
- In July 2020, the UK Government delayed the implementation date of these new safeguards from October 2020 to April 2022.
- In January 2019, the NHS Long Term Plan committed to halve the number of people with autism and/or learning disabilities in inpatient settings by 2023/24 (from a 2015 baseline).
- In January 2019, the NHS Long Term Plan committed to increase investment in community and crisis mental health services – investment in mental health services will grow faster than the overall NHS budget, a real terms increase of at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24.
- In December 2018, a UK Government-commissioned Independent Review of the Mental Health Act published its final report and, in response, the UK Government committed to introduce laws to reform the MHA and improve patient choice and autonomy – the newly elected UK Government repeated these commitments in December 2019.
- In November 2018, the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 (‘Seni’s Law’) received royal assent, which introduced a requirement for mental health units in England to train staff on how to reduce the use of restraint, provide patients with information about their rights and improve monitoring – no start date for this Act has been set.
- In December 2017, changesfrom the Policing and Crime Act 2017 and The Mental Health Act 1983 (Place of Safety) Regulations 2017 came into force, including banning the use of police stations as places of safety for children in mental distress, shortening the length of time of certain detentions, and requiring healthcare professionals to be consulted before detention in a place of safety.
Read our assessment of the UK Government’s progress on mental health detention.
The assessment was made based on the evidence available up to 15/09/2020