Ministers are urged to finally implement legislation limiting the use of dangerous restraining practices against patients in mental health units two years after its passage.
Labor, two former mental health ministers and charity bosses have demanded an end to the “unusually long wait” for the introduction of revolutionary laws.
They wrote to Nadine Dorries, Minister of Mental Health, asking her to end the unexplained delay in the entry into force of the Mental Health Offices (Use of Force) Act 2018. New legislation usually comes into effect a few weeks after obtaining parliamentary approval.
Mental health experts, police and politicians of all stripes welcomed the legislation when Parliament passed it in 2018. It aimed to curb the use of forms of restraint that resulted in trauma, serious injury and harm. deaths among people with mental health problems.
Young black men have been disproportionately subjected to controversial and violent restraint techniques, the evidence shows. The legislation is commonly known as “Seni’s Law” after the death of 23-year-old black man Olaseni Lewis at Bethlem Royal Mental Hospital in London in September after being detained by 11 police officers.
An investigation into his death has learned how the graduate, who had no history of mental illness, died face down in the unit after police handcuffed his hands behind his back, put his legs in cracks. chains and took turns to sit on him. He had a heart attack, went into a coma, and died.
“The use of force against people with mental health problems is a national scandal,” said Steve Reed, secretary for shadow communities, who was Lewis’s MP for Croydon North. He introduced the bill to the House of Commons as a private member’s bill.
“Parliament passed a law to end these abuses against mental health patients, but two years later it still hasn’t come into force because the government failed to trigger it.
“If the government really cares about the safety of patients with mental health problems, ministers must put Seni law into effect without further delay,” Reed added.
Lewis’s parents, Aji and Conrad, signed the letter, as did Conservative MP Jackie Doyle-Price, minister for mental health under Theresa May, and Sir Norman Lamb, the former Liberal Democrat minister for mental health in the coalition government in 2012-15.
Other signatories include Professor Sir Simon Wessely, former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which has undertaken a mental health law review for May’s government, and Paul Farmer, the chief executive of the charity Mind , who chaired an NHS task force on mental health.
The legislation obliges psychiatric units to reduce and record the use of restraint against patients and to train their staff to use de-escalation techniques instead of defusing difficult situations.
The letter comes weeks after the bosses of mental health trusts in England accused Boris Johnson’s government of “structural discrimination” and lack of interest in mental health after years of progress under previous administrations.
The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs did not explain the delay. He said he would seek advice on statutory guidance for the legislation, suggesting that it be enacted.
A spokesperson said: “Treating and caring for people in a safe and compassionate environment is essential and the government has given its full support throughout the passage of the Mental Health Offices (Use of Force) Act and is committed to publish statutory guidelines on the law for consultation as soon as possible. “.