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Mental Health Act Reform: Consultation Response

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 15 July 2021

The Government have today published the joint Department of Health and Social Care and Ministry of Justice consultation response to the White Paper Reforming the Mental Health Act, published in January this year.

The publication of this report represents a significant milestone on the road to reform of the Mental Health Act, a once-in-a-generation reform programme. It summarises the invaluable and constructive responses that we have heard from the public and stakeholders, and takes us a step closer towards the fulfilment of two manifesto commitments:

That we “will legislate so that patients suffering from mental health conditions...have greater control over their treatment and receive the dignity and respect they deserve”.

That we “will make it easier for people with learning disabilities and autism to be discharged from hospital and improve how they are treated in law".

In January we published a Mental Health Act White Paper, responding to the independent review of the Mental Health Act which was conducted by Sir Simon Wessely and published in 2018.

This White Paper set out that we will be accepting the vast majority of the recommendations and asked a series of consultation questions on the detail and implementation of the proposals.

Since the consultation closed in April, we have analysed more than 1,700 responses. In parallel to the consultation, our Departments have held policy development workshops to get richer insights from service users, clinicians, and those with lived experience of detention under the Act, on the details of the proposals.

The consultation response, published today, includes no new policy announcements, and instead reports on the feedback from clinicians, service users, those with lived experience of detention, and other key stakeholders on the 35 questions posed in the White Paper to gather views on the best way to implement the reforms and ensure they achieve their aims, and inform further policy development as we progress towards a Bill to reform the Act, which we will bring forward when parliamentary time allows.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with general support for the proposals and direction of travel set out in the White Paper. The responses have provided valuable insights on the practicalities of implementation, which our Departments will work through, and continue to engage as we do so. We are committed to continue the open policy making approach, in order to bring forward a Bill which will improve how the Act works for everyone. There are a small number of areas where the consultation response did not support the direction of travel set out in the White Paper, or there were mixed views on the proposals. We will reflect on the feedback received, and continue to engage with key stakeholders, prior to taking final policy decisions to inform the Bill.