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Wednesday, April 14, 1999 Published at 02:24 GMT 03:24 UK


Mentally ill 'need more rights'

Mind wants more patient power

Much-needed changes in mental health legislation should give patients the right to the best treatment regardless of cost, says a report by a leading charity.

Mental Health
Mind wants patients to have increased rights to the most effective healthcare.

It has long campaigned for more expensive mental health drugs, with less side effects than older medication, to be made more widely available.

Its report, Mind the Law, has been submitted as evidence to the body reviewing the Mental Health Act of 1983.

A draft report on proposed changes is due to be published by the government in the next few weeks.

Mind says 90% of 570 mental health patients surveyed in England and Wales backed its principles for mental health reform.

The charity wants:

  • New legal rights to treatment and assessments
  • A legal ban on electric shock treatment given without consent and a ban on very strong drugs
  • Compulsory treatment to be given as a last resort, and only with the approval of an independent tribunal or court
  • Greater choice for patients over drug treatments and care
  • Relatives named by patients to have greater power over assessment and admission, but not over treatment
  • A legal right to advocacy

Mind says current legal safeguards are not working.

Personality disorder

More than half of the people surveyed said the Mental Health Act 1983 did not cover the groups it should.

Three-quarters wanted personality disorder to be included and 58% wanted paedophiles to come under the Act.

Mind strongly believes anti-social offenders such as paedophiles should not come within the scope of mental health legislation.

And it backs a recommendation by a recent inquiry which calls for the term 'psychopathic disorder' to be removed from the Act.

The government has already outlined plans to create special centres for people with serious personality disorder, which would give them different treatment from other mental health patients.

Experts disagree over whether people with personality disorder can be effectively treated under existing mental health legislation.

The government has also suggested it is likely to tighten legislation over community care patients, making them subject to compulsory treatment orders.

Mind says compulsory treatment in the community will not only drive users away from services, but could also alienate professionals by making services less attractive and accessible.

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