Letters

Mental health law: College committed to improving training

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6925.408a (Published 05 February 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:408
  1. F Caldicott,
  2. S Mann
  1. Royal College of Psychiatrists, London SW1X 8PG. Waterloo House Surgery, Millom, Cumbria LA18 4DE Reaside Clinic, Birmingham B45 9BE National Schizophrenia Fellowship, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 1SS Manchester M33 3RQ.

    EDITOR, - We wish to correct inaccuracies in Nigel Eastman's article on mental health law.1 In its examinations the Royal College of Psychiatrists attaches great importance to the principles of mental health legislation. It is not possible, in an international college, to examine the minutiae of individual mental health acts in the written papers. There is no dispute between the college and Irish candidates; candidates from Scotland, and Northern Ireland are also familiar with different legislation from that in England and Wales. In the clinical and oral examinations, when the candidate and examiner are familiar with the same law the candidate's knowledge is examined in detail, particularly as many patients who agree to participate in the examination have at some time been liable to detention under such laws. The royal college's examinations do test another vital aspect - namely, the ability of candidates to assess and diagnose psychiatric disorders.

    As Eastman implies, those authorities that grant approval of doctors as having specialist knowledge of psychiatry - such as regional health authorities under section 12 (2) of the England and Wales Mental Health Act must consider how they assess competence. Their responsibility indicates that it is not professional …

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