The Government has announced that it will introduce a new mental health bill following today’s publication of the findings of an independent review into the Mental Health Act 1983.
However, it is silent on the reviews recommendation that bereaved families should receive non means tested legal aid despite already pledging to accept two other recommendations.
The 307 page report published last week recommends that the Government should provide non means tested funding to families who have died unnaturally, violently or by suicide. This will be to help families understand the processes, their rights and what steps they can take. This would include funding to attend the Inquest, but should also be available to support families immediately after the death of the patient.
Access to Justice is essential to enable accountability and learning from death.
The review says too many people who are mentally ill are remanded to prison rather than to hospital. It is suggested that prisons should be considered as places as safety solely on welfare grounds where bail is being considered and that Magistrate’s Courts should have hospital remand powers. However, the Report acknowledges that all these powers are illusory if no bed is available and that is frequently the case.
Responding to the Report, the Government said it is accepting two recommendations. Those detained under the act will be allowed to nominate a person of their choice to make decisions about their care. People will be able to express their preferences for are and treatment and have these listed as statutory “advanced choice” documents.
A more formal response to all 54 recommendations will be made in the New Year.
The Government has yet to respond to its call for evidence, issued earlier this year, for its review of Legal Aid for Inquests, which addresses provision for Legal Help and Representation for bereaved families.
If you have any issues in relation to inquests, please do not hesitate to contact any one of our specialist team at Boston, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Grantham and Newark.