Updated: NHS England/Improvement guidance on the Mental Health Act and supporting systems during the coronavirus pandemic

Published on
4 min read

On 19 May NHSE/I published updated guidance on the impact of COVID-19 on the use of the Mental Health Act and supporting systems to safeguard the legal rights of people receiving mental health, learning disability and autism services, including specialised commissioned services. This updates the original guidance published on 30 March 2020.

This guidance is for commissioners of care, providers, health care professionals, Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs), local authorities and other partner organisations, including the police and prisons involved in caring for people with mental health needs, a learning disability and/or autism during the pandemic.​

Guidance on using the MCA Code of Practice

  • The Department of Health and Social Care has provided advice on using the MHA Code of Practice during the COVID-19 pandemic period and this can be found in section 5 and Annex D of the updated guidance.

During the ongoing pandemic, mental health services and practitioners may need to make certain changes to current practices in order to continue functioning in this challenging environment and in order to comply with public health advice.

NHSE/I and the DHSC find that current circumstances may provide cogent reasons for departure from usual best practice, but that each practitioner must assess whether the departure is appropriate and must only do so when necessary and proportionate. Any departure should be monitored and evidenced. The CQC can conduct reviews if concerns are identified.

It is possible that over the comings weeks and months that operational challenges arising from resource constraints may start to impact on the use of the MHA. We look at some of these areas and the steps mental health services can take:

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