Mental Health Report ‘Highlights Harsh Reality For Vulnerable Patients’

Committee Outlines Concerns Over Support For Severely Ill

21.08.2013

By Rob Dixon

A new report by the Health Select Committee has shone a spotlight on how the severely mentally ill are among the people most affected by cuts to services and why it is vital for those with concerns to seek advice, according to a legal specialist.

According to a new study by a group of MPs, there is evidence of some mental health patients being sectioned in order to secure hospital treatment, while there was a warning that safeguards such as those related to deprivation of liberty were being ignored in some cases.

The committee called for a review to be carried out into the variations in use of such measures and an action plan to be formulated for improving the situation.

Rethink, the mental health charity, were among a number of bodies to raise concerns over the ‘shocking’ findings.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law team represent a number of patients and their loved ones in relation to issues regarding standards related to health and social care services across the UK.

Alex Peebles, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office who specialises in the area, said: “Our experience of regularly acting for mental health patients and their carers suggests that the severely mentally ill are faring particularly badly as a result of local authority spending cuts and NHS ‘efficiency’ savings.

“We are aware of a number of instances where community services have been withdrawn without suitable alternative placements and this leaves patients vulnerable to compulsory detention in hospital.  This can have a devastating impact on them and their families.  This patient group is particularly at risk because the very nature of their illness makes it difficult for them to speak out.
 
“But the law does give all patients certain rights and we would urge any individuals or groups of patients to get legal advice if they do have concerns over whether the NHS or their local authority has acted lawfully in such situations.”

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