13:19, June 20 132 0 theguardian.com

2018-06-20 13:19:08
Mental health tribunal proposals put justice at risk

The proposed changes to mental health tribunals put justice at risk. Mental health tribunals determine whether people detained under the Mental Health Act stay in hospital or return to the community. Since 2012, over 9,000 people have been discharged as a result of a mental health tribunal. We believe the Tribunal Procedure Committee (TPC) proposals will damage the fairness of tribunals, potentially undermine human rights, and lead to longer detentions.

Pre-hearing examinations are valued by tribunal judges and patients alike, as they give detained people an important opportunity to be heard. Abolishing them only serves as another way to cut people out of their own care.

Giving tribunals the power to take decisions in more circumstances without an oral hearing will only penalise the most vulnerable people. This could lead to the indefinite detention of older people, people who are severely mentally ill, or people with learning disabilities.

The independent review of the Mental Health Act will cover mental health tribunals in its final report this year. We urge the government and the Tribunal Procedure Committee to wait for these recommendations instead of pursuing a separate agenda for change.

Caroline Abrahams Charity director, Age UK, Eric Appleby Director, Disability Law Service, Professor Wendy Burn President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Paul Farmer Chief executive, Mind, Isabella Goldie Director of development and delivery, Mental Health Foundation, Sanchita Hosali Director, The British Institute of Human Rights, Sarah Hughes Chief executive, Centre for Mental Health, Katharine Sacks-Jones Director, Agenda, Martha Spurrier Director, Liberty, John Thompson Chief executive, St Martin of Tours, Mark Winstanley Chief executive, Rethink Mental Illness

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