On Wednesday 13 January, Government unveiled a white paper setting out its plans to reform the Mental Health Act first introduced in 1983.

United Response chief executive Tim Cooper said:

“These plans are a positive starting point to replacing the outdated and uncompassionate Mental Health Act with new and properly funded protections worthy of the 21st Century.

“The current system simply fails to uphold the rights of the very people it is designed to support. It is therefore especially welcome that the new proposals will place people with urgent mental health needs, a learning disability or autism right at the heart of any decisions about their care.

“Government’s new proposals are right to recognise that those needing urgent treatment should have the choice to nominate someone to support them and set out their choice for treatment. Just as crucial will be their newfound access to independent mental health advocates to challenge bad clinical decisions, deprivations of liberty and wrongful detentions.

“The Health Secretary’s commitment to seeing people not as ‘patients’ but individuals with rights is long overdue – but must not remain lip service. This fresh approach needs to go hand-in-hand with investment in mental health and learning disability services, directly linking to similar care within the NHS and leading to more effective wider support to meet these aspirations.”