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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2008): Mental health services - UK

Care quality data is too hard to pin down

A. Deery and V. Raleigh

Health Service Journal, Apr. 10th 2008, p. 18-19

An increasing proportion of NHS-funded inpatient mental health care, particularly for people with complex conditions, is commissioned from the private sector. National data about the care and treatment of people with a mental illness in independent services is inadequate. Independent providers are not required to routinely collect the same information about their patients as NHS hospitals

Choose life

M. Gould

Health Service Journal, Apr. 3rd 2008, p. 22-23

Although high local rates of suicide may occur in areas of deprivation, there has been a 10% overall decrease in the ten years to 2005. There is concern that sensational media coverage of suicide clusters such as that in Bridgend may lead more young people to kill themselves. The Welsh Assembly has produced tight reporting guidelines for local and national media to avoid this. Local drop-in centres and telephone helplines aimed at young people are also beneficial.

Hospital clinicians' attitudes towards a statutory advocacy service for patients lacking mental capacity: implications for implementation

L. Luke and others

Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, vol. 13, 2008, p. 73-78

Clinicians in England and Wales are under a new statutory obligation to have regard for the Mental Capacity Act. Where patients are without relatives or friends and lack mental capacity to make a decision about 'serious medical treatment' or a change of accommodation, clinicians must appoint an independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA). As part of an independent evaluation of seven advocacy organisations involved in piloting the IMCA service, the authors examined the attitudes of hospital doctors to the new schemes. Clinicians were sceptical about the involvement of IMCA services in medical decisions, believing that they were impractical and unnecessary given current procedures for making decisions in patients' best interests. Conversely, clinicians were more likely to support advocacy in discharge decisions, because they believed that non-medically qualified advocates could make a valuable contribution to decisions that were seen as predominantly social.

A life like any other? Human rights of adults with learning disabilities

Joint Committee on Human Rights

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers session 2007-08; HC 73)

This report the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights paints an often harrowing picture of neglect, abuse and the denial of fundamental human rights to adults living with learning disabilities in the UK. Evidence received by the Committee reveals that people with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to abuse and are less likely to understand their fundamental human rights, including to be treated with dignity and respect by public authorities. Adults with learning disabilities and their advocates and carers told the Committee about how people were denied the opportunity to conduct their own lives as any adult would take for granted including the ability to form and conduct relationships. The Committee focused on areas that presented the most stark human rights concerns: the treatment of adults with learning disabilities in health and residential settings; parents with learning disabilities; adults with learning disabilities in the criminal justice system; and the barriers they face in trying to live an ordinary life. The Committee was particularly concerned to hear that despite the introduction of the Human Rights Act and the Disability Equality Duty, the Government were 'searching for levers' to encourage Departments and local authorities to implement a policy that ensures dignity and respect for the rights of people with learning disabilities. While the Committee welcomed the commitment of the National Directors for Learning Disabilities and the Minister for Care Services, it called for a culture change in the provision of services for adults with learning disabilities, and a move away from out-dated, negative stereotypes.

Mental Health Act 2007

J. Dow

Journal of Integrated Care, vol. 16, Apr. 2008, p. 33-37

This article sets out to explain the 'deprivation of liberty safeguards' which are inserted in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 by the Mental Health Act 2007. The aim of the deprivation of liberty safeguards is to provide legal protection for vulnerable people deprived of their liberty in hospitals and care homes other than under the Mental Health Act, to prevent arbitrary decisions to deprive a person of liberty, and to give rights to challenge deprivation of liberty authorisations. The safeguards apply to people who lack capacity to consent to care or treatment, and who are suffering from a disorder of the mind. The government expects that the safeguards will reduce the number of people deprived of their liberty in care homes and hospitals.

Opening the floodgates? The possible use of supervised community treatment in England and Wales

S. Lawton-Smith

Mental Health Review Journal, vol. 13, Mar. 2008, p. 41-43

The Mental Health Act 2007 introduced supervised community treatment (SCT). Under SCT, patients who have been compulsorily detained in hospital for treatment may, on discharge, become subject to a Community Treatment Order requiring them to comply with certain conditions, including taking their medication. Non-compliant patients can be conveyed to hospital for compulsory treatment without the necessity of formal re-sectioning. The King's Fund has estimated that, over a period of 10 to 15 years, the number of patients subject to Community Treatment Orders might rise to between 7,800 and 13,000 at any one time.

Overcoming the shock of the new

B. Taylor

Mental Health Today, Apr. 2008, p. 31-33

Recent years have seen a government commitment to the reform of mental health day services. Guidance states that future day services should promote recovery, focus on community participation, aim to reduce social isolation, offer opportunities for peer support, encourage people with mental health difficulties to run their own services, and maximise choice and self-determination. This article reports on a review of progress towards these goals. The review demonstrates that day service modernisation is difficult but worthwhile. There is evidence that redesigned services achieved increased accessibility and inclusion, and improved outcomes for people using them.

School's in

J. Cosh

Mental Health Today, Apr. 2008, p. 18-19

One of the key commitments of the Scottish Government's Delivering for Mental Health strategy is a pledge to improve the mental health services offered to young people by ensuring that there is a named mental health link worker available to every school by the end of 2008. The role of the link worker is to offer advice and consultation on mental health issues to school staff, parents, pupils, and the wider community; to arrange training for these groups; and to work directly with the young people in school. The link worker is also expected to improve access to services for young people in need of treatment, and to educate the school community about mental health.

With your mind

E. Rowling

Mental Health Today, Apr. 2008, p. 14-15

Profiles an innovative training project which aims to convey the lived experience of young people with mental health problems to frontline professionals. The training materials have been developed by a group of young people in their late teens and early twenties who have experienced mental health difficulties.

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