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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 25 (1983) 3, 177 - 196

Korte bijdrage

Mental Health Amendment Bill

G.V.C. Dekker

In 1960 the Mental Health Act 1959 was introduced in England and Wales. This Act was generally considered a product of modern legislation as it reflected the post-war results of psychiatric treatment (particularly with medication) and the changing patterns of mental hospital admission. The purport of the Act was to remove statutory control from most mentally disordered people, to abolish judicial intervention in the admission-procedure and to treat the mentally ill on an equal footing with somatic patients. Although the British Government concluded in 1981 that the 1959 Act had worked well and had provided a balanced system for the protection and control of the remaining small minority of patients, it was convinced that t here was a need for some revision and updating within the overall framework of the Act. In view of this a Mental Health (Amendment) Bill was presented to Parliament in november 1981. The object of this bill is to improve safeguards for detained patients, to clarify the position of staff looking after them and to remove uncertainties in the law. The improvements in the bill mean that:

  • the period before detention has to be either renewed or ended is halved;
  • for certain groups of patients, detention in hospital is allowed only if the person is thought treatable;
  • acces to Mental Health Review Tribunals is increased;
  • the position on consent to treatment is clarified;
  • the standards of care given to detained patients and the use of powers of detention are safeguarded through the new Mental Health Act Commission;
  • guardianship powers are made to fit current good practice;
  • increased opportunity for psychiatrie assessment and treatment is provided for those appearing before the courts by introducing interim hospital orders and remands to hospital.