For me, the Mental Health Act Code of Practice consultation has been an incredibly rewarding exercise. In the ten weeks to 12 September, we held over 20 engagement events and received more than 300 submissions via email, post and online, and they're still climbing. The wealth of information, including many inspiring and educative stories of how the Code of Practice has helped – or sometimes hindered - patients and professionals achieve better health outcomes, has proved to me how important this consultation’s findings will be in the delivery of better mental health services.
Well the consultation may be over, but the conversation continues. At 8pm on Monday 22 September I took part in another exciting information gathering exercise – a web chat organised by the thoroughly decent people at WeNurses.
It was a real eye opener for me and a great demonstration of how people can put their views across and discuss points of interest so quickly.
In particular, I was keen to read responses to questions such as how the Code addresses the use of police powers of restraint (sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act), safeguarding for patients, community support and whether or not the Code allows people a sufficiently clear and present voice in decisions about their care and treatment.
Common themes and observations, familiar to me from the consultation period, emerged during the online discussion including use of blanket restrictions, definitions of seclusions and the deployment of electronic communications.
Here’s a flavour of the comments posted:
“We need clarity and method of speedy resolution when the code is not being followed.”
“I'm interested to know whether the new code draws a distinction between care and treatment. How do we know care works?”
“I'm keen on the section about removing blanket restrictions on wards but think you may need to explore electronic devices.”
“Need to give guidance in relation to Caldicott guardians’ views and privacy/communication using digital on wards.”
Participators also asked if we would be producing public facing versions of the revised Code of Practice – seen as an important part of the strategy to raise awareness - and I was happy to confirm this work is in train.
Overall, this was an energising and informative session – definitely worth repeating! And although the consultation is officially closed we are still taking comments to the end of September – you can tweet your views using the #MHCode or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, the original consultation documents are still available to view here.
Implementation of a revised and better publicised Code of Practice is clearly vital to make sure the tenets of the Care Act are delivered for the benefit patients and medical professionals alike. I hope we can ‘web chat’ again about where, when and how we promote the new code. Thanks everyone for some fantastic contributions to such an important debate.