Tories plan alternative mental health Bill

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The Conservatives are working on an alternative mental health Bill to force the Government into rethinking controversial plans to detain mentally ill people thought likely to commit crime.

Following the Queen's Speech, ministers said they were delaying the introduction of mental health reforms for the second year running.

This follows fierce criticism from psychiatrists, lawyers, charities and patients who say parts of the draft mental health Bill are designed for public protection and will undermine the rights of the mentally ill.

For more than a year The Independent on Sunday has campaigned for better rights for people suffering mental distress. We have urged ministers to rethink plans to boost the powers of psychiatrists to lock up innocent people.

Under the health secretary, John Reid, the draft Bill has already been altered to give psychiatrists, sectioning people with severe personality disorder, discretionary rather than compulsory powers.

The Mental Health Alliance is, however, working with the Tories on a private member's bill. Tim Loughton, the shadow health minister, said the Bill should not make anyone with a mental disorder subject to compulsorily treatment.

Dr Tony Zigmond, vice-president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, also called for a change to Labour's Bill provisions concerning the "definition of mental disorder" and "criteria for compulsion".

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