Mental health detention – Government action
UK Government actions
- In September 2021, Public Health England published updated guidance on preventing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in mental health and learning disability settings.
- In July 2021, the UK Government published plans to prevent avoidable detentions in mental health settings as part of the refreshed autism strategy, including funding to accelerate discharges and improved access to community support and housing. The UK Government also published a response to the independent review of long-term segregation and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) review of restraint.
- In June 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care published guidance on new Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) to authorise deprivations of liberty in England and Wales for people who lack capacity. The LPS were introduced through the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act, which received royal assent in May 2019. The LPS will come into effect in April 2022.
- In May 2021, the UK Government published a consultation on statutory guidance for the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018, and announced that the act would be implemented in November 2021. The act aims to reduce inappropriate use of force and improve accountability and transparency.
- In February 2021, new NHS guidance in England advised there should be no further remote assessments for detention under the Mental Health Act, following a High Court ruling that the practice was unlawful.
- In January 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England published legal guidance for mental health, learning disability and autism services supporting people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In January 2021, the UK Government published proposals to reform the Mental Health Act based on the principles of: improving choice and autonomy; ensuring powers are used in the least restrictive way; providing a therapeutic benefit; and treating the person as an individual. The 2021 Queen’s Speech committed to a new mental health bill.
- In November 2020, the UK Government announced £500 million in additional funding in 2021‒22 as part of the COVID-19 recovery package to address waiting times for mental health services, provide more people with mental health support, and invest in the NHS workforce.
- In May 2020, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care issued legal guidance allowing temporary departures from the Mental Health Act (MHA) code of practice during an undefined ‘pandemic period’. The guidance was updated in January 2021, but continued to allow departures from the code of practice and did not give details of the ‘pandemic period’.
- In March 2020, the Coronavirus Act received royal assent. The act included provisions, which if switched on, would allow for temporary changes to safeguards in mental health detention in England and Wales. These provisions expired in England in December 2020.
- In January 2019, the UK Government published the NHS Long Term Plan, which included a commitment that investment in mental health services would grow faster than the overall NHS budget, a real-terms increase of at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023–24.
- In December 2017, changes to 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 certain detentions, and requiring healthcare professionals to be consulted before detention in a place of safety.
The assessment was made based on the evidence available up to 30/09/2021