Mental Health Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 19th February 2007.

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Photo of Lord Alderdice Lord Alderdice Liberal Democrat 3:45 pm, 19th February 2007

My Lords, those who would be implementing this legislation are healthcare workers. They are not prison officers, policemen or lawyers. They are not used to the idea that their work involves compulsion, coercion and detention. This is a singular episode from their point of view. Therefore, some guidance is required in the Bill as to how their work should proceed in this unusual coercive, detained context.

To put it briefly, I take what the Minister said in the previous debate that a smaller number of principles could produce clarity. Healthcare workers do refer to the Act on a Friday night when they are trying to address these matters; they do not get involved with a huge code of practice. A brief series of principles that lays out clearly how the compulsion, detention and coercion are to be conducted, in a way that is not à la the prison or the police cell but is in a caring context, would add considerably to the comfort of patients and indeed of their carers.