The Mental Health Units (use of force) Act to come into force in 2022
The Mental Health Units (use of force) Act 2018 was enacted in November 2018. However, commencement regulations have only now been passed with a view to the Act coming into force from 31 March 2022.
On 7 December 2021 the Government published guidance on the implementation of the Act which is available here.
The Act has a wide remit as the use of force is defined to include physical, mechanical or chemical restraint of a patient, or the isolation of a patient (which includes seclusion and segregation).
We have commented on the Act in a previous briefing, but in summary, the Act requires the following:
- Mental health unit staff must receive appropriate training in the use of force
- The unit must publish a policy regarding the use of force and the steps taken to minimise the use of this
- The unit must publish information to patients about their rights
- The unit must keep records of the use of force
- The unit must appoint a person with responsibility for the steps above and for ensuring the requirements in the Act are carried out.
The Secretary of State for Health & Social Care will publish statistics at the end of each year regarding the use of force, and will conduct an annual review of any reports made by coroners pursuant to their duty under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, schedule 5 para 7 relating to deaths arising from the use of force.
In addition, the Act provides:
- a police officer going into a mental health unit must wear and operate a body camera
- where a patient dies or suffers serious injury in a mental health unit, regard must be had to relevant guidance relating to the investigation of that incident.
Units have a few months before the implementation date but there is certainly work to be done before the end of March to implement the new Act.
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.