Ministers must use legislation to address an “unacceptable and inexcusable” failure to address racial disparity in the use of the Mental Health Act (MHA), MPs and peers have said.
The joint committee on the draft mental health bill says the bill does not go far enough to tackle failures that were identified in a landmark independent review five years ago, but which still persist and may even be getting worse.
The committee says the landmark 2018 review of the MHA by Prof Simon Wessely – which the bill is a response to – was intended to address racial and ethnic inequalities, but that those problems have not improved since then “and, on some key metrics, are getting rapidly worse”.
Lady Buscombe, the committee chair, said: “We believe stronger measures are needed to bring about change, in particular to tackle racial disparity in the use of the MHA. The failure to date is unacceptable and inexcusable.
“The government should strengthen its proposal on advanced choice and give patients a statutory right to request an advance choice document setting out their preferences for future care and treatment, thereby strengthening both patient choice and their voice.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are taking action to address the unequal treatment of people from Black and other ethnic minority backgrounds with mental illness – including by tightening the criteria under which people can be detained and subject to community treatment orders.
“The government will now review the committee’s recommendations and respond in due course.”
Source: The Guardian, 19 January 2023
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