Intended for healthcare professionals


Mental Health Act must be updated to give patients power over care, says review

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 06 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5189
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

People detained under the Mental Health Act deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and to have their views properly taken into account, an independent review of the act commissioned by the prime minister has recommended.1

Too often people in a mental health crisis are treated as criminals, locked in police cells, or taken handcuffed to secure accommodation in the back of police cars or vans. Although incarceration might be in their best immediate interests—and is often so acknowledged by those who experience it—the way it is implemented is no longer in keeping with the times, says the review, which was chaired by Simon Wessely, a past president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The review proposes a series of reforms that aim to shift the balance of power between patients and professionals. Most urgently, it seeks a better deal for people of black and ethnic minority background, who are disproportionately represented among people given community treatment orders.

The review team did not want to do away with CTOs altogether, as more radical …

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