Revised Mental Health Bill must not waste opportunity to improve services for people with mental health problems, says The King's Fund

Responding to the publication of the government's revised draft Mental Health Bill, The King's Fund today warned ministers not to squander an historic opportunity to come up with workable legislation that truly supports people with mental health problems while taking account of legitimate public safety issues.

The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'We have all waited too long for this legislation. Let us hope that this is not another wasted opportunity - this time politicians really must listen to those who use these services as well as the nurses, doctors, psychologists and all the other professionals who provide them.'

But The King's Fund did welcome the government's decision to put the draft Bill to a cross-party pre-legislative scrutiny committee before introducing a Bill to Parliament.

Simon Lawton-Smith, The King's Fund's senior policy adviser in mental health, said:

'This is a welcome opportunity to debate the key issues and we will be looking carefully at the revised draft to see whether the concerns of many organisations in this field have been taken on board.'

The King's Fund is part of the Mental Health Alliance, a coalition of over 60 service user and carer groups, charities and professional bodies.

Notes to editors: 

1. For further information or interviews with The King's Fund staff, please contact the Media and Public Relations Office on 020 7307 2585. For all media enquiries to the Mental Health Alliance today, 8 September, please contact the Mind press office on 020 8522 1743 or 07850 788514.

2. In November 2003, the King's Fund published the findings from its 18-month inquiry into London's mental health care. London's State of Mind: King's Fund Mental Health Inquiry 2003, by Ros Levenson, Angela Greatley and Janice Robinson, warned that the Government's pledge to modernise mental health services is failing in London. It said that, while there are many examples of good services, London remains reliant on admitting people with mental health problems to hospital rather than helping them stay in the community. Media can obtain free copies of the report by contacting Michael Moruzzi, King's Fund media and public relations assistant, on 020 7307 2585.

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.

4. The members of the Mental Health Alliance are: Afiya Trust, AWAAZ (Manchester), BASW, British Psychological Society, Mental Health Nurses Association, College of Occupational Therapists, Critical Psychiatry Network, Manchester Race and Health Forum, GLAD, King's Fund, Maca, Manic Depression Fellowship, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, National Autistic Society, POPAN, Rethink severe mental illness, Revolving Doors, Richmond Fellowship, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Psychiatrists, SANE, The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, SIRI, Turning Point, UK Federation of Smaller Mental Health Agencies, UKAN, UNISON, United Response, US Net, Voices Forum, YoungMinds.