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Prof Louis Appleby
"There will be an announcement in the near future"
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Jayne Zito
"We need funding"
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Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Officials back compulsory treatment orders
Patient
Tackling mental health is one the government's key health priorities
A majority of health officials in England want the government to introduce compulsory treatment for mentally-ill patients.

A survey of health authorities, carried out by the Zito Trust, also found that officials wanted to draw up protocols for forcing patients to take their medication.

The government proposed compulsory treatment for patients who are living in the community but who are failing to take their medication.

The policy is expected to be included in the new Mental Health Bill which is due to be published shortly.

Jayne Zito, who set up the Zito Trust after her husband Jonathon was killed by a care in the community offender seven years ago.


We need the funding to ensure that patients can actually be provided with the services that they need


Jayne Zito, Zito Trust

She said: "There was an overwhelming response in positive favour that the government actually do introduce compulsory treatment orders when they review the legislation of the 1983 mental health act.

"But we also need the strategies to actually manage individuals' care once they are in the community. We need the medication in order that those patients in the community can lead a quality of life."

She added: "But also we need the funding to ensure that patients can actually be provided with the services that they need."

Announcement

Professor Louis Appleby, the government's mental health tsar, said plans to introduce the orders were "in the pipeline".

He said the proposed changes to mental health law would be announced shortly by ministers.

"There has been quite a long period of consultation with people in the field and those with an interest in mental health law.

"That consultation has fairly recently come to an end and now the Department is considering all of those responses. There will be an announcement in the near future."

Prof Appleby acknowledged that developing protocols to guide mental health staff in carrying out compulsory treatment orders was important.

But he added that ensuring those people had the right skills was just as important.

"That is another of the issues that we are addressing now through a review of what are the central skills that people need in mental health services."

Cliff Prior, chief executive of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship said: "A legal right to assessment, care and treatment would ensure that people are not turned away from services when they desperately need them."

He added: "By the time people have compulsory powers used against them, they are already very ill. A legal right for them and their carers to receive an assessment at an early stage would actually reduce the need for compulsory powers to be used."

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