Guide to the draft Mental Health Bill 2022: autonomy and choice

In this third posting in our blog series on the draft Mental Health Bill 2022, we look at some of the proposed changes that seek to promote patients’ autonomy and choice.

  1. Nominated person: the Bill replaces the ‘nearest relative’ with a new role; the ‘nominated person’. A patient can appoint a nominated person in writing at any time, provided they have the capacity or competence to do so. If they do not, an approved mental health professional can nominate a nominated person on behalf of the patient. Nominated persons will have the same rights and responsibilities as nearest relatives currently have, in addition to new powers. The Bill provides for a nominated person to be ‘temporarily overruled’ if they exercise certain powers unreasonably as opposed to them being removed or displaced; this ensures they can remain as nominated person and keep supporting the patient.
  1. Mental Health Tribunal: the Bill proposes to extend the period during which patients can apply to the Mental Health Tribunal to review their detention under the Act. There are also changes to when the hospital managers must refer an individual’s case to the Tribunal. The Bill proposes an increase in the frequency of these automatic referrals to the Tribunal and seeks to widen the group of patients in respect of whom automatic referrals must be made.
  1. Advocacy: the Bill expands the right to access services provided by an Independent Mental Health Advocate by providing access for voluntary patients, who are not detained under the Act. All qualifying patients will be offered Independent Mental Health Advocate services via an automatic referral.
  1. Complaints: the Bill seeks to place a statutory duty on hospital managers to supply complaints information to detained patients, compulsory treatment order patients and conditionally discharged patients in addition to nominated persons.

If your organisation requires advice in respect of your duties under the Mental Health Act 1983, or in relation to the proposed reforms, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of experts.

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