CQC report: Mental health patients must have more involvement in decisions about their care

Patients held under the Mental Health Act (MHA) must have their rights protected and be given more power to decide how they would like to be treated, the Law Society of England and Wales said today in response to the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) annual report.*

Law Society president Lubna Shuja said: “For patients detained under the MHA, it can be an uncertain and frightening time as they put their care into the hands of medical professionals.

“This is why our members feel that people should have the opportunity to make ‘advance decisions’ when a patient can state how they’d like to be cared for while they are under section.

"An advance decision should enable patients to make clear their preferred clinical treatments, the treatments they do not want, as well as how their children, dependents or pets are looked after while they’re being cared for.

“The CQC’s report shows that take-up of advance decision-making is uneven. This highlights why the government’s legislation to reform the Mental Health Act should explicitly include what are known as Advance Choice Documents.

“This would help ensure people’s rights are respected by providing a formal document to record how they want to be cared for. It would also enable them to have more power and influence over decisions and appeals regarding care and treatment.

“We will work to ensure that Mental Health Act reform enables patients to have a greater say in their care and ensures the law is applied on an equal basis.”

Notes to editors

The Mental Health Act 1983 is the legislation in England and Wales that sets out when people can be detained and treated for their mental health in hospital against their wishes. 

The Draft Mental Health Bill 2022 is committed to reforming the Mental Health Act and improving the way that people with a learning disability and autistic people are treated in law.

In 2021 to 2022, there were over 53,000 new detentions under the Mental Health Act.

* Read the CQC's report: Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2021 to 2022

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