In 2014-15 63,000 people were detained under the Mental Health Act, an increase of 43% compared with 2005-06. Black people are disproportionately affected with a detention rate of 56.9 per 100 patients compared to 37.5 per 100 among white patients.
The proposed new legislation would introduce safeguards to end current rules that mean detained patients can be treated against their will in that those with the mental capacity to refuse would be able to do so. It would also include a code of practice aimed at reducing the disproportionate detention of minority groups. Every school would have staff trained in mental health first aid and the Equalities Act would be altered to end workplace discrimination.
Whilst the conservatives are pledging to hire 10,000 staff in the NHS by 2020 it cannot be ignored that there has been a reduction of 6,610 nurses working in mental health since 2010 and between 2011 and 2014 there was a 7% reduction in the number of inpatient beds with “out of area” beds rising by almost a quarter in 2014-15.
30% of delayed discharges from psychiatric inpatient units are associated with the absence of good-quality, well-resourced community teams. Charities are likely to welcome the proposals but only if they are accompanied by adequate resources.