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Mind games

Professionals are still concerned that the Mental Health Bill will do more harm than good to the people it should protect. Scott Watson reports

3 July 2003

The Department of Health (DoH) has said it will definitely bring forward its controversial new Mental Health Bill, which has been left on the backburner for the last 12 months. An initial draft published in June 2002, which included plans to force mentally ill people living in the community to take medication, and proposals to detain mentally ill people without trial, caused uproar among lawyers and medical professionals. Many mental health professionals said they would resign rather than implement the new laws, and the British Medical Association even warned the Bill would cause the total collapse of mental health care in Britain. The current DoH line is the Bill will be brought to the Commons when parliamentary time allows, following the lengthy consultation that was carried out after the publication of the draft. When it eventually does see the light of day, it is set to be the biggest overhaul of mental health services for decades. “We can’t say when that will be, or comme...

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