A mental health charity has branded as “irresponsible” the Government’s coronavirus bill which would grant single doctors the power to detain the mentally ill.
The Government wants to relax legal safeguards in the Mental Health Act in order to free up medical staff to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. If passed, the bill would reduce the number of doctors needed to approve detaining individuals from the current minimum of two, to just one.
In addition, it would temporarily allow time limits in the Mental Health Act to be extended or removed altogether. This would mean patients currently detained in mental health facilities could be released into the community early, or be detained for longer.
Akiko Hart, Chief of National Survivor User Network (NSUN), a UK mental health charity, said: “Whilst we understand that these are unprecedented times, any legislative change must be proportionate and thought through, and should protect all of us. Minimising some of the safeguards in the Mental Health Act and extending its powers, is a step in the wrong direction.”
Source: The London Economic, 19 March 2020