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A New Year, A New Mental Health Act?

In December 2019 the Government confirmed in the Queen’s speech that it would continue to work on reforming the Mental Health Act. A White Paper was published in 2021 outlining potential areas for reform.

We have previously commented on some of these areas.

In December 2018 the Mental Health Act Independent Review chaired by Prof Simon Wessley made over 150 recommendations for reform. There are clearly areas of concern, some more widely accepted than others, including:

  • Increasing patient choice
  • The role of the hospital managers exercising a power of discharge
  • The need for a statutory care plan
  • Restricting the use of community treatment orders
  • The role of the nearest relative as currently defined

Some have also noted an increase in the number of deaths of those detained under the Mental Health Act over the last year (excluding those which are not related to Covid 19), and suggested this may be a further driver for a wish to review the Act.

Latest intelligence would suggest a draft Mental Health Bill may be published in the spring of 2022. It will of course need to go through the full legislative process of Parliament and then there will be a need for time to enable providers to implement any changes arising. We have already seen that it can take quite a long time to implement statutory change – for example the Liberty Protection Safeguards were set out in legislation which received Royal Assent in May 2019 but are still not in force (although this is planned for 2022).

And so…will a New Year bring a change? Time will tell.


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.