psychiatric patients have no protection under mental health code
of practice, campaigners warn
by Angela Hussain
psychiatric patients have no protection under a national mental
health code of practice, campaigners warn.
follows a ruling by The House of Lords that Ashworth Hospital in
Merseyside acted lawfully when a patient, Colonel Munjaz, was detained
in seclusion on four occasions for between four and 20 days at a
decision overrules that of a previous Court of Appeal hearing which
held that, in Colonel Munjaz's case, the code had been broken and
and his treatment was unlawful.
mental health charity Mind fears The House of Lords ruling opens
the door for Ashworth and other psychiatric hospitals to "ignore
the code whenever they choose"
code, enshrined in the Mental Health Act (1983), was drawn up to
ensure patients could rely on minimum standards of care. It advises
on issues including sectioning, restraint, patients' visiting and
correspondence rights, random personal searches and aftercare.
now fear, for example, that while the code states that restraint
must not involve tying a patient to any part of a building, a hospital
could have a policy allowing this.
House of Lords overruled the Court of Appeal's decision on the grounds
that there was nothing in English law which required local policies
to be compliant with the code.
Marriage, head of Mind's legal unit, said: "This judgement
will make it impossible to regulate the care and treatment of people
in the most vulnerable situations."
health law is going through its biggest shake-up since 1983 with
a draft mental health bill presently going through parliament.
28, 2005: Up to 13,000 people could be placed on community treatment
orders over 15 years, says report - but Department of Health
refutes the King's Fund figures
13, 2005: Ministers refuse to add "treatability" condition
to draft mental health bill - fears that more people will be
compulsory treated is fuelled by government response to parliamentary
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