over government plans for one psychiatrist to enforce mental health
by Chris George
have been made to government plans to allow just one psychiatrist
to enforce the compulsory detention of a person diagnosed with mental
Ministers fear an autumnal surge
in swine flu could cause health service staff shortages of up to
25 per cent.
In response, the department of health
is, until October 7, consulting on plans to temporarily reduce from
two to one the number of psychiatrists required to detain patients
for assessment or treatment under mental health law.
The emergency plans include suspending requirements for a second-opinion
appointed doctor to approve medicating a patient without consent
if they have been in hospital for three months or more.
The plans also include allowing retired approved social workers
to be designated approved mental health professionals.
Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical
officer, said the temporary changes were to maintain levels of care
while protecting the safety and rights of patients and the public.
But campaigners and psychiatrists
Tony Zigmond, the Royal College of
Psychiatrists' lead on mental health legislation, told the Guardian
newspaper: "To take away just about all the safeguards seems
a serious step which removes the protections for patients and professionals."
Mind's chief executive, Paul Farmer,
said: "Any proposals that will reduce the number of professionals
involved in the sectioning process are concerning.
"Sectioning effectively deprives
people of their liberty, and the reason that a number of professionals
are involved is to ensure that the best decision is made for the
patient, and no one is detained inappropriately.
"We have to be clear that these
are serious changes, and should only be used as a last resort.
Professor Louis Appleby, the government's
national director for mental health, said: "We are determined
to make sure we have a sensible, proportionate approach that ensures
that vulnerable mental health patients continue to get the treatment
they need, when they need it, even in the event of staff absences."
Louise Pembroke, service user, London
September 18, 2009
Right, so are surgeons also going to be reduced? Procedures which
require two surgeons cut down to one. I doubt it.
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