should rip up draft mental health bill plans, doctors urge
attempt by the government to reform mental health law is so draconian,
unethical and impractical that ministers should start all over again,
doctors' leaders have said.
British Medical Association (BMA) told a parliamentary committee
last week that the draft mental health bill was "unethical,
unworkable and in conflict with the Human Rights Act".
Wilks, the chairman of the BMA's ethics committee, said their recommendation
was to "to tear the proposals up and start again".
evidence to the joint committee on the draft mental health bill,
Dr Wilks and two consultant psychiatrists criticised the proposed
legislation's emphasis on protecting the public from a small minority
of potentially dangerous mentally ill people - at the expense of
the civil rights of the majority who pose no risk to others.
expressed concern that the proposed legislation would breach the
human rights of people with mental health problems.
concerns held by almost all mental health groups and professional
associations and which have been prevalent since the government
produced its initial draft mental health bill in 2002, the BMA also
* the bill would compel doctors to detain patients who might be
dangerous, but for whom detention provided no health benefit.
the wide definition of treatment in the bill also meant people diagnosed
with personality disorders or learning disabilities could be detained
on the grounds of public safety rather than benefit to their health.
it was unclear how the Department of Health had worked out an extra
130 psychiatrists would be needed to implement the proposals and
whether this figure was realistic.
The wording of the draft bill was complex and difficult to understand
committee of MPs and peers is due to present its report to the government
British Medical Association Written Evidence to the Joint Committee
on the Draft Mental Health Bill
The government's revised draft mental health bill (pdf)
24, 2005: Members of expert group to advise government on planned
mental health law - hand-picked members to help develop code
of practice on draft mental health bill
16, 2004: Draft mental health bill risks breaching rights of patients
and would be unworkable - parliamentary committee hears
9, 2004: Government publishes revised draft mental health bill
- but it is greeted with universal condemnation from bodies representing
mental health professionals and service users.
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