Mental Health (Amendment) Act 1982

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th June 1983.

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Photo of Mr Harvey Proctor Mr Harvey Proctor , Billericay 12:00 am, 28th June 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the progress of implementation of the Mental Health (Amendment) Act 1982.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

The Mental Health (Amendment) Act 1982 has now been consolidated with the 1959 Act into the Mental Health Act 1983, which has the same implementation date—30 September this year. A full memorandum of guidance on the Act will be distributed free of charge to health and local authorities and other interested bodies early next week. The various regulations and orders that were required under the Act will be laid before the House before the end of this week. Leaflets for patients and their relatives explaining their rights under the new legislation are being prepared and will be distributed to health and local authorities at the beginning of August. Arrangements are in hand for setting up the new Mental Health Act Commission and letters of invitation have been sent to 80 or so potential members.

Photo of Mr Harvey Proctor Mr Harvey Proctor , Billericay

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that response. When does he expect to make an announcement about the appointment of the Mental Health Act Commission, which will be a very important body in the mental health sphere? Can he say when the name of the chairman will be announced?

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

I hope that my hon. Friend, who has taken a great interest in these matters, will not take it amiss if I answer "Shortly" to both parts of that supplementary question.

Photo of Mr Roger Thomas Mr Roger Thomas , Carmarthen

Is the Minister satisfied with the fact that a social worker can refer a patient to a consultant psychiatrist for admission to a mental hospital without any reference whatever to that person's general practitioner?

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

That point was carefully considered during the passage of the Bill, and we are satisfied about it. Serious steps are being taken to ensure that social workers, who will be responsible for this area of policy, are fully and properly trained.