Care Minister propose new mental health rights

  • The government are unveiling new proposals set to increase the right to people who have learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions.

    Care Minister Norman Lamb has said that these changes would put people in charge of their care whilst promoting community support as an alternative to hospitals, reports the BBC.

    Ministers have pledged to move patients out of hospitals and into community care following the Winterbourne View scandal. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    Last month the National Audit Office said the government had failed to honour its pledge, because it had underestimated the "complexity and level of challenge" involved in discharging so many patients into the community.

    Mr Lamb believes that his proposals will strengthen people's rights to challenge decision made about their care whilst making it difficult to admit people to hospital when there is better support available in the community. The consultation will also take people with learning disabilities and autism into consideration.

    Other measures could include having a named professional in charge of sharing information with an individual and their relatives, and a new duty for local authorities to check the amount of community support available for people at risk of being sent to hospital.

    The Lib Dem minister said the reforms would improve accountability in the system, "so there can be no excuse for people falling through the gaps between services.

    "This is fundamentally about transferring power to people and away from institutions. We have to end the horror of families feeling that they aren't listened to, that their concerns are ignored. Just because an individual is sectioned under the Mental Health Act shouldn't mean that the family is excluded."

    In a joint statement, Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, and Viv Cooper, chief executive of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said: "We welcome the government's recognition that a serious imbalance of power exists within the system, leading to the voices of individuals and their families often being ignored, with devastating consequences."

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