Enhance patient autonomy, advises report


A RIGHTS-based approach to mental health legislation which enhances patient autonomy is the key recommendation arising from an interim report by a Government-appointed steering group set up to review the Mental Health Act 2001.

"A move away from the paternalistic approach of the 2001 Act was a feature of the views expressed in the consultation process," said Ms Lynch, who published the report yesterday.

She also welcomed a recommendation that children should be given a greater say in their care and treatment.

"It is important that each person should have a right to determine and participate as much as they possibly can in their own care and treatment," she said, adding that the imminent publication of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2012 would also be a significant improvement in this regard.

Other key recommendations in the interim report include:

* greater emphasis being placed on individual care plans

* inspection of community-based services by the Inspector of Mental Health Services

* provisions that children should be included in a standalone part of the Act while children aged 16 or 17 should be presumed to have capacity to consent to/refuse mental healthcare and treatment

* the Act should explicitly provide that patients should be supported to make informed decisions as regards their care and treatment

* a person should only be detained for treatment as a last resort

* significant intellectual disability should no longer be grounds for involuntary detention

Ms Lynch said that she would now be putting in place an expert group to carry out the second and substantive phase of the review.