The King's Fund calls on government to revise mental health law

The King's Fund has called on the government to accept the serious criticisms of its draft Mental Health Bill by a cross-party committee of MPs and Peers.

Responding to the report published today by the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill, The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'We are delighted the scrutiny committee has taken on board the messages we gave when we appeared before them as well as recommendations from the Mental Health Alliance. It is now time for the government to join with others and see if we can produce a better Bill.

'Ministers have rightly been concerned about public safety but we also need a law that is ethical, workable and encourages confidence in mental health services from those who have to use them and their families, as well as the professionals who deliver them.

'We echo the scrutiny committee's concerns about the lack of resources to implement the proposed arrangements. We simply do not have the staff to ensure the new procedures are properly taken forward - there are not enough psychiatrists to participate in tribunals; not enough community psychiatric nurses and other staff to monitor people living in the community under a compulsory Order; and we do not yet have the large numbers of advocates that will be needed to safeguard the rights of those who may be detained.'

The King's Fund is part of the Mental Health Alliance, a coalition of more than 60 charities, professional organisations and mental health service user groups that have come together to work for a better Mental Health Act.

Notes to editors: 

1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.

2. The Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill published its report on 23 March 2005. The committee of both Houses of Parliament began work following the publication of the draft Mental Health Bill in September 2004.

3. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through grants. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership and education courses; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.